Chandelier, Crown, Ceiling Rose, Lighting Fixture – over the years, the chandeliers have been associated with many fanciful names. They are not only an illuminating device but a symbol of class and superiority since forever; even before Daniel Swarovski, founder of the Swarovski crystal dynasty piqued an interest in this decorative element.
Since chandeliers came into being, they have evolved in functionality, introduced new designs, spread worldwide, and advanced from bearing candles to electric light bulbs. However, throughout the centuries, the fundamental idea of an enchanting lighting centrepiece remains.
6th Century – The Beginning
The most primary identifiable precursor of the chandelier is the Byzantine polycandelon which dates back to the 6th century. A Byzantine polycandelon is basically an open-form candle holder. The chandeliers, then, used to bear candles. (Yes! Candles existed in the 6th century as well) However, the candles & chandeliers both lacked efficiency. The candles were drippy, smoky, and high maintenance while the chandeliers used the pulley systems for their placement.
Moreover, due to the smoky drippy candles, the rooms with chandeliers often had smoke ventilation, and eventually, people learned not to stand directly under those chandeliers as they used to drip.
Renaissance (11th – 16th century)
Belgium (then Dinant) was the home of brass workers who featured religious figures, flowers, and Gothic symbolism in their creations. Unfortunately, the brass workers had to relocate around Europe after Charles the Bold burnt down Dinant. However, the relocation of those metalworkers had consequences. It steered them to spread their craft all over the continent and the world, later. Consequently, their valuable art stayed alive and was circulated in the form of chandeliers during the renaissance period.
Jan van Eyck painted the earliest painting featuring a chandelier in 1434. This infamous 15th-century painting confirms the existence of chandeliers. Another painting with a depiction of the Dutch brass ball-stem chandelier is The Dropsical Woman by Gerrit Dou.
17th century – Crystals
By the 17th century, the glassmakers were exploring art and crafting chandeliers with designs that were never seen in the past. The Venetian glassmakers added moulded glass flowers and leaves to chandeliers. Later, the Bohemia glassmakers followed the same trajectory and began crafting glass chandeliers, mimicking the popular designs of France & Britain.
18th century – Neoclassical
With Neoclassicism in play in the 1750s & 60s, there was a new chandelier design in the market – the Neoclassical Chandelier. As archaeologists discovered the ruins of the ancient cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, those inspired designs. That’s when people started revisiting the classics to look at Mediterranean art for inspirations, motivations and solutions. James and Robert Adam’s sketch of the Pompeii sites are what gave birth to the Neoclassical style chandelier.
19th century – Swarovski
In the late 19th century, Daniel Swarovski, the bohemian glassmaker, invented the machine to cut crystals with precision. Primarily, they merely operated this machine to craft jewelry. Daniel Swarovski didn’t enter the chandelier business until later.
In 1965, Swarovski started incorporating crystals into chandeliers and lighting fixtures. Ten years later, the company developed the ‘Hot Fix’ system – an innovative way to apply crystals to a wide variety of materials, and it changed the chandelier game forever.
Modern Times – Contemporary Chandeliers
Modernism grew among the public around the early 20th. Chandeliers then switched to being the decorative focal point to rooms. They were often used to decorate rather than to illuminate. Presently, chandeliers can incorporate designs from the past or use a completely new style narrative. The chandelier market has room for a little bit of everything – Rococo ornateness, Neoclassical simplicity, Tiffany beauty, contemporary intrigue, and so much more.
Chandeliers have retained their popularity throughout the centuries, the only difference being that they are more affordable, hence, generalized now. Chandeliers can be found in the majority of homes today in various styles. This piece of lighting fixture has withstood the test of time gracefully and is considered to give the perfect finishing touch for every home.
Conclusively, regardless of the era of design or styles that appeals the most, you are likely to find precisely the kind of chandelier you want with ease. So, are you willing to find out which era’s chandeliers speak to your inner style?