Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) employed many designers across his companies, but only a handful were selected to work in what was enviously described by other departments as “little Arcadia.” Designers Alice Carmen Gouvy (1863–1924) and Lillian A. Palmié (1873–1944) created the watercolors on exhibition from life studies.
Between 1900 and 1902, the enamel department was enriched by the ever-growing survey of studies which lined the walls of the distinctive environment. Verdant beauty on branch, vine, and stem expertly communicated the volume and composition found in nature and were well-suited for translation into three-dimensional artworks. The watercolors served as inspiration for the life-like relief decoration on many enamel, and later ceramic, vessels produced at the vast facilities of the Stourbridge Glass Company (1893–1902)—later renamed Tiffany Furnaces, Inc. (1902–20). At Tiffany’s idyllic workshop located in Corona, Queens—just seven miles away from Tiffany Studios in Manhattan—Gouvy, Palmié, and other women freely pursued their creativity without the stresses of Tiffany’s more commercially driven shops. The artwork generated from this department ultimately took life in many three-dimensional forms, but the vibrant and spontaneous studies reflect the talent and artistry fostered in the small workshop focused solely on creating beauty.
Alice Carmen Gouvy, 1863–1924
Educated in her hometown at the Cleveland School of Art, Gouvy moved to Manhattan in 1896 to continue study at the Art Students League. Following her graduation two years later, she began working in Louis Comfort Tiffany’s newly formed enamel department. By 1902 she, along with the department, found their creative niche in Corona, Queens. Gouvy became the head of the department in 1903, experimenting with enamel, pottery, and bronze design until 1907 when she returned to Cleveland to teach.
Lillian A. Palmié, 1873–1944
Palmié and her twin sister Marion were born in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Around 1897, both talented artists went to work for Tiffany as clerks. Then, Marion moved to Manhattan to work under Clara Driscoll’s supervision, and Lillian settled in the enamel department in Corona, Queens until at least 1903. The Palmié family owned a hotel in Point Pleasant, New Jersey that was frequented by many designers at Tiffany Studios. Lillian was a talented designer for a variety of materials. Driscoll mentions her painting pottery as well as her successful design of a wild carrot candlestick in bronze. In 1910, she was designing jewelry. Her wedding announcement to Earl Cox, a former accountant at Corning Glass Company, in 1923 described her as “a successful enamel designer in an experimental laboratory at Tiffany Furnaces.”