Supported by doré bronze, this chandelier is literally dripping with polished pendants of luminous rock crystal and dressed with crisscrossed beaded rock crystal lines à lace, providing a dispersion and richness of light unmatched by more traditional glass fixtures. The great expense of the materials, the rarity of such large rock crystal elements and the magnificent condition make this one of the finest, most desirable 18th-century chandeliers.
Rock crystal, or pure quartz, has been lauded for centuries for its inherent beauty. Ancient Roman Pliny the Elder found its clarity so impressive that he proclaimed it to be ice that had hardened permanently over millennia. When carved, rock crystal appears far more lustrous than man-made crystal or glass, so much so that it has even been used in place of diamonds. Its brilliance and purity, combined with its relative scarcity, secured rock crystal’s status as one of the most highly valued minerals throughout history. It was particularly prized from the Renaissance through the 19th century, when it was considered one of the most precious and expensive materials used in the decorative arts.
This outstanding fixture is pictured in Dictionnaire de L'Ameublement et de la Décoration Depuis le XIII siècle jusqu'a nos jours (The Dictionary Furniture and Decoration Since the XIII Century to the Present Day) by Henry Havard, figure 761. The piece is described as a "Lustre en cristal de roche, XVIII siècle" ("Rock Crystal Chandelier, 18th Century")
28" high x 31" wide
||31"W x 28"H
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