Origins Of The Chandelier

The chandelier has become a symbol of wealth and excess, mainly because we often see them in grandiose banqueting halls and stunning ballrooms. There’s no doubt that there is an opulence to the chandelier that makes it seem like they’re there purely to show off, but there is a real practicality to these incredible light fittings. To find out more, we have to go back to the middle ages.

The term ‘chandelier’ is actually very old, and pre-dates the style of chandeliers we know of today. It’s origin actually dates back to the 10th century, from the French word ‘Chandelabre’. Chandeliers don’t necessarily have a humble beginning, but they do have a less showy one. In the middle ages, castles would often have large banqueting halls, and for visiting dignitaries, kings and queens, large, stone bed chambers.

crystal lighting

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoetnet/4856991645/

These large areas in a stone castle were not only cold, but before the use of glass, small windows were designed to reduce the cold (as well as repel arrows). Very little light got through. The only solution was the use of candles, which added light, albeit vary little. The main challenge was how to offer any improved lighting over a large area. The only thing for it was to create a huge wooden cross onto which several candles were placed. They were then lit, and the huge, heavy wheel was hoisted up to the ceiling with pulleys.

The Evolution Of The Chandelier

In the proceeding centuries, the chandelier became increasingly more ornate. Instead of arrangements of wood crosses or even cart wheels, more intricate creations began to take shape. Brass and iron would become part of the design, as well as gold and silver plate. Glass from Murano in Italy would also be used, becoming part of chandelier production since the 13th century.

In the 1700s, the Czech Republic, then known as Bohemia, had been developing their glassmaking skills, and were creating spectacular lead crystal. Soon, Bohemian chandeliers were known for their breathtaking beauty, and were shipped all over the globe. The production of lead crystal had become more widespread by the end of the 18th century, which led to the broader availability of highly decorative chandeliers.

It would be the development of gas in the 1800s that would revolutionise the use of chandeliers, which meant they need not be raised or lowered to light, making them much more convenient to use. Of course, with the advancement of electricity, the grandeur of ceiling crystal lighting would never be the same again.

O’Brien’s Lighting is a retailer of high quality lighting including crystal lighting

Comments

  1. Wow, i really love chandeliers, if i would be able to design my house in the near future, i want my house to be full of chandeliers. It made me like it more reading this article. Indeed, chandeliers are evolutionary.

  2. Carlo Baluyut says:

    Yes, chandeliers are grandiose but I’m not fascinated with them maybe because I’m cheap or I’m just practical. But what I liked about the article was how chandeliers were first used in the 10th century. It’s a good thing I now live in the 21st century where electricity available at least I won’t have to hoist a Chandelabre and eventually get burned by hot wax.

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