The Chandelier is a staple of lighting design, and it has been for a long time – evoking elegance, refinement, and romance. The history of the chandelier stretches back further than you know, and has undergone a myriad of design changes over its lifetime. We’re going to take a look back through time and see how our modern idea of the chandelier came into being.
The earliest ancestor of the modern chandelier that historians are able to identify is the Byzantine polycandelon from the 6th century. These fixtures used candles that required an inordinate amount of maintenance. Pulleys were used to raise and lower the polycandelons so that the wicks could be trimmed and candles could be lit or extinguished. They required ventilation for smoke, and you could not stand under one without getting hot wax dripped on you!
The Middle Ages to the Renaissance
This period in history was all about art. Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife (1434) by Jan Van Eyck features the earliest depiction of a chandelier. The ornate chandelier can be seen just behind the couple in the painting. The Chandelier was most likely made of brass, which was becoming popular in Europe at this time.
The Dropsical Woman (1663) by Gerrit Dou features the Dutch brass ball-stem style of chandelier that is actually still found today, most often in churches.
The first crystal chandeliers made their appearance in the 17th century, made from actual rock crystal. In 1676 a British glassmaker patented crystal chandeliers made from flint glass rather than rock crystal, making them clearer, easier to cut, and easier to color as desired.
18th Century Design
The 18th century saw the birth of Baroque and Rococo styles, which included elaborate floral designs, swirls, and other small details. These chandeliers, much like the Dutch designs of the Renaissance were usually bronze.
In our next post, we’ll discuss the evolution of the chandelier from the 18th century until today. In the meantime, you can find the most beautiful and stylish selection of modern chandeliers at our lighting showroom near Lawrence. Stop into Rensen House of Lights, today.