Chandeliers in the Seventeenth
and Eighteenth Centuries
By Helen Costantino Fioratti
The English, too, were very dedicated to glass making. In 1780 John Moore M.D., wrote in his book, A View of Society and Manners in Italy that he was surprised at Venetian glassmaking methods, which he thought were more difficult than the methods used by "others" (in England and France). Among the names of British glassworkers is that of William Parker of Fleet Street who supplied a set of chandeliers for the Assembly Rooms at Bath, the fashionable society spa town, when those of a rival maker, Thomas Cullet, proved to have sagging arms. (Was the name a coincidence or from a nickname of yore?) Parker than received an order that read: ďprovide five 'lustres' for the ballroom, the whole to contain two hundred candles, the fashion and ornaments to be left to Mr. Parker, who is to deliver and put them up in ten weeks at the farthest for the sum of £500."
The arms of Parkersí chandeliers were tapered so that they were lighter on the ends and less liable to sag, (unlike Culletís product). An added bonus was that they looked more delicate. In 1782, Parker also provided the Duke of Devonshire lighting for his "stately home," Chatworth (Derbyshire).
Another client of William Parker was the Prince Regent, who purchased chandeliers to the tune of almost £2500. He also ordered a fifty-six light chandelier for Carlton House, which measured thirteen feet in height (4.2 m.) and had three graduated hoops for candle arms with tiers of drops. Chandeliers in Regency England (1811-1820) were heavy with icicle drops; their shape was described as "tent and bag" or "tent and waterfall." The dining room of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton (in 1816) had a ton-weight chandelier dangling from the claws of a dragon flying over the dining room table.
Other French mentions of chandeliers occur in the Countess de Boigne's memoirs, she wrote that as a small child at Versailles, "encouraged by the kindness of King Louis XVI, she asked a favor of him: to allow her two small crystal pendants from the chandeliers to make a pair of earrings!" She also related that the most talked about topic in Turin society concerned a chandelier (while she was staying there in 1810):
Everyday, before the evening's events, when (her) father, the French ambassador,
received his visitors, everyone discussed the chandelier placed at the theater by
Prince Borghese, who had served as governor of Piedmont under Emperor
Napoleon. The chandelier was hung in the "salle" of the grand theater, an
innovation. The Prince offered to give it; he offered to sell it; he offered to have it
removed at his own expense. He even offered to withdraw it censť (without
discussing the price). He finally offered to accept anything the King was willing
to give, and that it should be done without any discussion.