Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Styles Of Antique Chandelier Lighting

Styles of Antique Chandelier Lighting

Today, no light fixture is more elegant than a hanging chandelier. Yet each of the decorative features primarily associated with chandeliers--cut glass, colored sconces and wrought iron--weren't invented only for their beauty. Throughout history, chandeliers have been designed largely in response to lighting technologies, from candles, to kerosene glass, to the electric light bulb. Does this Spark an idea?


From the middle ages until the invention of gas lighting in 1792, all chandeliers used wax candles. In 1676, glass maker George Ravenscroft invented a reflective, lead-based crystal that refracted candlelight, allowing chandeliers to increase their luminescence and ushering in the era of the cut-glass chandelier. Antique, candle-burning chandeliers are still considered among the most elegant and collectible, although they are also among the most difficult to use and maintain. Some have been retrofitted for electric lights.


Gas chandeliers appeared shortly after British engineer William Murdoch made a public display of coal gas lighting at London's Soho Foundry in 1802. By the 1830s, most major cities had adopted gas street lighting. In 1875, massive gas chandeliers (sometimes called "gasoliers") filled the lobby of Paris's new Opera Garnier and became famous the world over as the "falling chandeliers" of Gaston Leroux's 1909 novel "The Phantom of the Opera." Antique gas-lit chandeliers are often covered in colored-glass sconces to help soften the brightness of gas light.


The first gas-electric combination chandelier appeared in 1890. The increased brightness of electric lighting allowed for the formerly functional aspects of chandelier design--cut crystal, colored-glass sconces--to become purely decorative elements. Chandeliers from the early 20th century celebrated their liberation from functionality by featuring curlicue metal and elaborate hanging pendants. Many modernist design aesthetics, such as art deco and the bauhaus, saw chandeliers as outdated remnants from a less technologically advanced era, although simple chandelier designs became a common feature in middle-class homes after World War II.

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