A magnificent Empire gilt bronze and cut-glass eighteen-light chandelier, the circular corona issuing ornately scrolled foliate branches from which hang pendant glass drops and strings of drops encircling a ring of pendant glass drops and a central gilt column with palmetted decoration at the base connected to a gilt bronze sphere or globe decorated with tessellated semi-circular motifs and centred by a band with foliate mounts, the sphere issuing scrolled candle branches, each hung with cut-glass swags with pendant drops and terminated by vase-shaped drip pans and a conforming candle holder, hanging below the sphere a splayed domed ring issuing further conforming scrolled candle branches, again hung with cut-glass swags with pendant drops, above a massive cone-shaped cut-glass pendant drop
Paris, date circa 1820
Height 128 cm, diameter 93 cm.
Rarely does one find a chandelier of such finesse and quality. Its decoration and sumptuous design confirms that it was intended for an important residence. The overall design compares with a number of other chandeliers from this period which likewise encompass a central sphere ornamented with stars to represent a globe, as seen in Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, "Vergoldete Bronzen", 1986, p. 359, pls. 5.11.4-6. The latter was made by Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846) circa 1818-19 and is now in the J. P. Getty Museum, California. According to their catalogue the central sphere or globe was inspired by a hot air balloon, which also probably provided the inspiration for the present piece. Galle's version, as here, has cut-glass pendants and swags and interestingly below the globe includes a glass bowl to house gold fish, hence he described it as a 'lustre à poisson' when he exhibited it in 1819. The following year Galle tried to sell his chandelier to King Louis XVIII but conscious of popular criticism against governmental luxury, it was rejected.