In 1907 the Irish-born Gray moved to France, where she spent the rest of her life working as a designer and an architect. Her early work-notably in lacquer, for which she is particularly renowned-was sumptuous, expensive, and one-of-a-kind, principally made for wealthy private clients such as the couturier Jacques Doucet. Between 1922 and 1930 she ran a shop in Paris called Jean Désert, where she sold her designs; during this period her aesthetic shifted from luxury to a more industrial functionalism that culminated in her spare architectural work of the 1930s. This pair of lanterns is part of a series of hanging lights she produced during the late 1920s. Earlier examples were made from lacquered metal, ostrich eggs, or colored glass; later examples such as this pair incorporate humbler industrial materials like Perspex, painted metal, and mirrored glass balls that serve as reflectors for concealed lightbulbs.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Century of Design, Part ll: 1925-1950," May 9–October 29, 2000, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Modern Design: Selections from the Collection," May 30–October 5, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Highlights from the Modern Design Collection: 1900 to the Present," June 23, 2009–May 1, 2011.