Chandeliers in the Seventeenth
and Eighteenth Centuries
By Helen Costantino Fioratti
Venetian and French styles were also favored in Germany. One important example is in the mirrored room at Würzburg in Germany; (Fig. 53) designed by the architect Balthasar Neumann, circa 1740, where there is a large glass chandelier of Venetian type. Germans and Austrians also used local glass as available, and imported drops from Bohemia. The various drop shapes, including realistic pears, were illustrated in a glass catalogue by Johann Christian Bode offered as available for the Neuen Palais in 1747. The famous Johann Michael Hoppenhaupt designed a bronze, fourteen light chandelier in 1752 for Potsdam.
In and around Liège, several glasshouses were established in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth-centuries. These were founded by the brothers Bonhomme as entrepreneurs, not artisans, giving them a monopoly on production in the Netherlands. They made Venetian style artistic and utilitarian wares. The Val-Saint Lambent factory is still thriving in the area.
A remarkable chandelier of amber is at Rosenberg Castle in Denmark, dating from the early eighteenth century and made by Lorenz Spergler in a style similar to French rock crystal and crystal glass examples.
Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia imported glass chandeliers from France and Venice, but also produced their own chandeliers, based on French forms. They came into their own in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, making countless chandeliers for Scandinavia as well as for export. (Fig. 54)
Brass chandeliers were so popular in the Netherlands (Fig. 55) that four hundred brass ones were reported to be in Antwerp Cathedral alone (but the candles were put away in daytime as they were so precious). During the Reformation (1517) many brass chandeliers were destroyed. The design for these Dutch and Flemish chandeliers endured with only minor differences from the fifteenth through the nineteenth century and are still being made today. (Fig. 56)
Candles were normally only fitted into the nozzles of chandeliers when they were about to be lit. Both the chandeliers are hanging empty in these charming Dutch interior pictures from the 1670’s. (Fig. 57 & 58) Occasionally one sees a single candle left in a chandelier, probably to serve in an emergency. A candle stub is to be seen in this brass chandelier hanging in a dentist’s home. Note the adjustable double-branch candlesticks on the table which has only a single candle. (Fig. 58)
Due to their great cost, and the cost of the candles to light them, chandeliers with many lights were only made for the palaces of the very rich, as well as for theaters which were the center of social life in every principality and duchy in Italy. Montesquieu (c. 1689-1755), writing of his travels there, remarked about Parma's theater, "The theater is large, very large for a minor prince who has not the means to illuminate it, which means that it remains almost useless." Thus, candles continued to be extremely costly, too much even for the prince to afford! A concert abroad, however, in the presence of Isabella of Parma demonstrates how royally she was received at one theater, which was hung with three hundred forty-four chandeliers, and painted by Martin Van Meytens. (Fig. 59)