A very fine and unusual Italian nineteenth century gilt bronze and clear and coloured glass beaded twenty-five light chandelier, the gilt bronze coronate-shaped corona surmounted by scrolled arms from which hang beads and drops, with glass beaded bands below, above a waisted stem issuing a tier of double-scroll cut branches issuing from a central foliate vase with each branch terminated by a gilt bronze and glass bowl-shaped drip-pan and a vase-shaped candle nozzle, the branches each with beaded bands and swags of plain and coloured glass drops, with a lower tier of conformingly shaped double-scroll cut branches terminated by the same drip-pans and nozzles, hung below with glass beads and swags and coloured glass drops with a ring of glass drop pendants. Now wired for electricity
Italy, most probably Venice, early nineteenth century
Height 140 cm, diameter 100 cm.
The overall construction, style and particularly the use of coloured glass that distinguishes this large and handsome chandelier suggests that it was made in Italy and more particularly Venice. By the nineteenth century production of Venetian glass chandeliers, made on the nearby island of Murano, had fallen into decline, mainly owing to competition from other parts of Europe. However, the style of the chandelier shares more in common with those made at Murano during its golden age of glass production during the 1700s. During this period Murano chandeliers, perfected by such eminent craftsmen as Giuseppe Briati (1686-1772), comprised a central metal frame from which emanated numerous arms decorated with polychromatic or transparent flowers, leaves and fruits, as well as moulded crystals. This new style of chandelier was known as a ciocche, meaning bouquet of flowers and often featured double-scroll arms that reflected the prevailing influence of Baroque and subsequent Rococo design.
The history of Murano glass began in 1291 when it was decided that all glass manufacture should be transferred from Venice to the island as a precaution against the risk of fire. Shortly after, the Venetian Republic introduced strict laws banning emigration and local glassmakers from practicing their craft outside Murano. These measures represented an attempt to contain glass production and its coveted secrets in one place and thereby retain a competitive advantage in the face of foreign competition. However, despite the enforcement of increasingly harsh punishments for defiant glassmakers, which included imprisonment and even killings, emigration from Murano to the rest of Europe was to continue throughout the coming centuries.