Monday, March 11, 2013

"Clara and Mr. Tiffany"

One of our book clubs just finished reading the engrossing historical novel Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.  She is the author of other historical books including Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Luncheon of the Boating PartyHer writing centers around art related themes.

Clara Driscoll (b.1861 - d.1944) refers to a long forgotten worker in Louis Comfort Tiffany's stained glass studio in New York CityClara was in charge of the women workers and in the novel seeks artistic recognition from Mr. Tiffany.  It is said Clara was one of the highest paid women workers in the country during her time at the studio. Tiffany had a policy of only hiring unmarried women so once a worker was married she had to quit.  Clara anguishes over this and ultimately must decide what is most important to her.

Long forgotten letters between Clara and her mother and sisters and just one mention in a old booklet about a stained glass exhibit brought Clara Driscoll to the attention of art scholars and this author.  The letters indicate that Clara was directly responsible for the famous Tiffany dragonfly and wisteria lamps as well as some of the bronze bases to the lamps.  The Tiffany studio did not give credit to individual workers and it is particularly noteworthy that a woman was actually responsible for these beautiful pieces.

The book is an absorbing account of the artistic life in New York City in the early 1900s as well as piquing an interest in Tiffany and his beautiful creations.  The studio went out of business in the early 1930s and Clara died in obscurity having tried to continue her art but never achieving the glory of these masterpieces she had helped to create. 

the real Clara Driscoll at work

wisteria lamp
dragonfly lamp



  1. I absolutely loved this book. It was my eye Dr.'s nurse who recommended it to me on my last visit. I wrote it down in my little black book and checked it out at my favorite library, yours of course! Thanks for a great review!