Strictly speaking, a chandelier is any multi-branch ceiling light. But what we understand in popular usage as a chandelier today - a grand ceiling light fitting with many lights and multiple crystal prisms - is the result of a long evolutionary process of this type of light. Originally made in wood as a cross with spikes on which to fix the candles, they were able to be lowered for lighting, and then hoisted to a suitable height by means of a pulley. From the 15th century they were made in a wider variety of materials including brass, wrought iron, gilded wood and silver. By the 18th century, developments in glassmaking allowed for the introduction of prisms in their manufacture, because of their light scattering properties. An elaborate chandelier was a status symbol of the wealthy in the 18th and 19th century and materials now used included bronze and porcelain. Manufacturers of the crystal prisms included famous names in glassmaking such as Baccarat and Waterford. Prestigious English manufacturers of the time included Parker & Perry, of Fleet Street, F.& C. OSLER of London and Birmingham and Maydwell and Windle.
An Art Nouveau gilt bronze chandelier by Muller Freres, circa 1900. the gilt bronze chandelier with a hexagonal and drop form knop issuing raised arms with floral frill edged shades in mottled ecru to amber purple colours. Length 58 cm. Diameter 54 cm
A mid-20th century five scrolling branch chandelier, glass shaped panel covers, encrusted with faceted prism and glass drops, various swags, a further light to the centre section. Damage to top flared rose
A neo-classical gilt metal eight-light cut-glass chandelier, mid-19th century composed of interlocking scrolling branches in tiers suspending flower capped pear shaped facetted and non facetted glass drops, circular glass drip pans 123 cm high
A Napoleon III bronze ormolu chandelier, circa 1900, in the Renaissance manner with a knopped foliate stem and domed section issuing eight 'S' scroll arms with petite urns supporting electric candles, length 70 cm diameter 62 cm
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