Chandeliers - History of Chandeliers
which were lit by candles, can be traced back to before the
16th century and were more decorative than functional. They
would be found mainly in medieval churches, abbeys and monasteries.
Chandeliers would only be found in private houses if the owners
were particularly wealthy. Even then they would only be lit
on special occasions. During the reformation many of these
chandeliers were destroyed, along with the buildings that housed
earliest known crystal chandeliers appeared towards the end
of the 16th century and were dressed with rock crystals, a
transparent form of quartz. The shapes of these crystals would
have been irregular. By the end of the 17th century chandeliers
were dressed with polished glass trimmings and the shapes were
becoming more regular. Some of these shapes are still in use
glassmakers of Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, had been producing
hand cut lead crystal for centuries. In 1724 a glasscutter
named Josef Palme received royal permission to build chandeliers
in a workshop in Prachen, a small village in the north of the
country. These quickly became known as Bohemian chandeliers
and are now supplied to virtually all countries of the world.
You can see splendid examples in Konopiste Castle in Prague
or in the Casino de Monte Carlo, which is lit by eight Bohemian
chandeliers each weighing over 140 kilos.
craftsmen of the Venetian island of Murano had been making
fine glassware since the early 13th century and in the early
18th century they began to make elaborate glass chandeliers.
Today Murano glass chandeliers are exported all over the world.
Fine examples of these can be seen at the Doge's Palace in
St Mark's square, Venice and in the ballroom of the Grange
Langham hotel in London.
1783 George and William Penrose began manufacturing crystal
in the port of Waterford. Today Waterford crystal chandeliers
can be found all over the world. You can see a good collection
of these in the State apartments at Dublin Castle.
1895 Daniel Swarovski and his brother-in-law Franz Weis set
up a factory in the tiny Tyrolean village of Wattens, near
Innsbruck. They began by making very high quality jewellery
stones. It wasn't until 1965 that they started to manufacture
chandelier parts but you can now find Swarovski crystal chandeliers
in most countries. There are particularly impressive examples
in the Palace of Versailles or nearer home in the Grange Fitzrovia
Hotel, Marylebone, London.
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