We know chandeliers have a special place in literature (Jarod Kintz, Charles Dickens), the Phantom of the Opera, and that Sia wants to swing from one, but what is the real story of the chandelier? Its origins and history? The glinting, glittering, and sometimes majestic appearance of the chandelier as it hangs elegantly from the ceiling is a sight not many miss, and most admire.
In this article, we’ll discuss the origins of the chandelier, from the grandeur it brings to royal palaces to its appeal in the modern home.
The word “chandelier” comes from the French word “chandelle,” which means merely, “candle holder.” The original chandeliers in medieval times were nothing more than wood crosses of sorts that hung from the ceiling, with candle holders on top. This allowed light to be cast about the room in a more efficient manner. Though its design was simple, the chandelier was only owned by the wealthy. Chandeliers were developed over time to become more ornate, and the original ornate chandeliers were made of metal, crystal and glass. They gradually became a symbol of status and wealth. One only needs to visit or view photos of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, an enormous chandelier at Linderhof Palace in Germany, or Buckingham Palace in England to see the beauty and, some would say, frivolity of the status symbol that is the chandelier. As gas lighting became the popular method in the 1800’s, the chandelier’s title shifted slightly to become known as the “gasolier.” The time of lighting grand halls and dining rooms with only candles was over.
Today, chandeliers are still owned in households around the world for their beauty and elegant touch of décor. And now, it is possible to find chandeliers in nearly any genre, shape, and size. Star Wars and Hello Kitty are among them. Daniel Libeskind, an architect who is originally from Poland, designed a sleek and sharp-edged chandelier that is meant to represent the history of light. It weighs 350 pounds, stands 9 feet tall, and contains 1,680 LEDs. The largest modern chandelier in the world, titled “Reflective Flow,” was designed by Beau McClellan and contains 2,300 hand-ground crystals. It is indeed a flowing and beautiful work of art that is reminiscent of the movement of flow in a river. There hangs in the White House a special set of three chandeliers that were included during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. They were made by Cristoph Palme & Co. and were made a gilded brass and cut glass. They were later adjusted for length and still hang in the East Room.
The history of the chandelier captures interest, from ancient medieval times, to the court of Great Britain to the court of France, to the elegant chandeliers at Buckingham Palace and through to the classic British home. Chandeliers are reminders of histories around the world. They are works of art as well as pieces of history, and they have the ability, just maybe, to cast a little grandeur into space of mediocrity.