Where should I begin??? I think Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland is easily one of my favorite books that I've read in a long time.
A novel based on the true story of Clara Driscoll who worked in the factory of Louis Comfort Tiffany in the early 1900's. Known as the head of the "Tiffany girls", Clara was the genius behind Tiffany's famed leaded glass lamps. She was Louis Comfort's "right-hand-man" so to speak, though it wasn't a well known fact. Tiffany only employed women who weren't married, and Clara was definitely married to her work. In a time when women weren't widely recognized, she blazed a trail that turned the art world upside down.
Louis Comfort Tiffany was world-renowned for his unbelievable leaded glass windows, but unwilling to stop there, he was ever on the lookout for new ideas to impress the movers and shakers of Old New York. While working on a huge window for an exhibit in Paris, Clara came up with the idea of a more "portable" leaded glass piece. The idea of a lampshade was born and when it made its debut at the Chicago World's Fair, history was made.
Design after design came out of the women's department, but in typical gilded age fashion, the women were the unsung heroes, and Tiffany himself took the credit for every piece produced by the factory.
Ahhh... what's not to love about this novel? The setting is my favorite of all time: turn-of-the-century New York City. From uptown jaunts to lower East Side tenements, Vreeland's book encompasses it all.
It covers history, romance, art, and culture.
I loved learning more about the Tiffany empire, and the history of these fabulous lamps and other household decoratives.
Knowing that they came from the mind of a woman, and have endured throughout the century as valuable and collectible antiques makes the story that much sweeter.
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