According to a letter written by his daughter, the cheery yellow Daffodil (narcissus) was a favorite flower of Louis Comfort Tiffany, who frequently found artistic inspiration in both exotic and common garden flowers.
Tiffany instructed the designers in his employ to incorporate the Daffodil into many different types of objects produced by his companies, including leaded glass windows made by Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company and in both blown and leaded glass at Tiffany Studios.
Glassblowers at Tiffany's private furnaces in Corona, Queens incorporated narcissus in a variety of forms into a long running series of floral paperweight vases using a number of masterful techniques, including millefiori. The Daffodils in these paperweight vases are often encased in thick layers of translucent glass, giving a naturalistic effect to the botanical motif.
At Tiffany Studios, Clara Driscoll and the "Tiffany Girls" designed at least 10 distinct leaded glass shades in a variety of patterns and configuations depicting the Daffodil, more than any other flower in the company's catalogue. The lamps ranged from table lamps of various shapes and sizes to a several monumental hanging shades.
This particular 16-inch diameter shade was likely designed by Clara Driscoll, the Manager of the Women's Glass Cutting Department and the head “Tiffany Girl” responsible for conceiving and designing many of the most iconic Tiffany Lamps.
Each of the daffodil blossoms which encircle the domed shade is articulated in expertly selected mottled yellow Tiffany glass in a variety of opacity levels, with each piece of glass carefully arranged to create a three dimensional effect. These naturalistic Tiffany Glass flowers contrast with the transparent background glass representing the sky, which is further accented by spiky leaves in shades of greenish blue which which sprout from the lower ripple glass border of the shade.
This shade is paired with a rare Tiffany lamp base featuring Favrile Glass "Candle Sleeves" which are decorated with a spiky pulled leaf design in green glass, marrying the motif in the shade to the base.
When designing Laurelton Hall, his palatial estate overlooking Oyster Bay, Long Island, Tiffany focused on both the interior architecture as well as blending the exterior gardens with interior spaces. While the palatial gardens of the estate were bursting with plantings of narcissus, a later addition to the house, the Daffodil Terrace, was a particular favorite of visitors to the home.
Dating from around 1915, the Daffodil Terrace was a massive covered patio extending off of the dining area and overlooking Tiffany's gardens which featured eight monumental marble colums topped with meticulously rendered capitals in the form of bunches of glass daffodils. Each daffodil blossom was formed by a minimum of 7 pieces of blown or cast glass; the arrangement of each flower and thus each capital was unique. According to Leslie H. Nash, who was at the head of Tiffany's glass furnaces during this period, the columns of the Daffodil Terrace required 12 molds to produce.
Though Laurelton Hall was tragically destroyed by a fire in 1957, the Daffodil Terrace survived and is now part of the permanent collection of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida.