Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 360, pl. 5.11.7, illustrating a slightly earlier Empire gilt and patinated bronze chandelier of circa 1810 with palm-shaped finials surmounting the corona, comparable linked suspension rods and a similarly shaped ring but with swan-shaped candle branches.
A very elegant and extremely fine Restauration gilt and patinated bronze ten-light chandelier, the corona headed by stylised palmettes, with a berried boss to its underside and foliate mounts around its edge, from which hang ornate patinated linked rods suspending an enclosed patinated bronze circular dished tazza mounted with ten gilt bronze rosettes at the sides, at the junction of each of the linked rods, and interspersed by ten gilt bronze foliate mounts from which issue curved foliate-wrapped candle branches, each with splayed foliate vase-shaped nozzles, the underside of the circular dish with a foliate boss enclosed by a ring of gilt lotus leaves bordered by further foliate scrolls
Paris, date circa 1825-30
Height 100 cm, diameter 95 cm.
With its bold lines, strong contrasts between alternate areas of gilt and patinated bronze as well as its overt reference to classical antiquity, this magnificent chandelier typifies the prevailing style during the late Empire and succeeding Restauration period. Adding splendour to any room, it compares to a number of other contemporary chandeliers. Included is one once owned by the renowned fashion designer Gianni Versace (1946-97) at his palatial Villa Fontanelle near Moltrasio on Lake Como, Lombardy in Italy, which was sold along with the rest of his collection from Villa Fontanelle by Sotheby’s London, 18th March 2009, lot 17 for £46,850. Like the present work, Gianni Versace’s chandelier is surmounted by a palmetted corona from which gilt rather than patinated linked chains hung, supporting the similarly shaped central waisted body; it however has sixteen rather than ten lights but as here the underside is ornamented with classical gilded motifs. Both that and the present piece compare to another equally splendid Restauration period gilt and patinated chandelier with thirty-two lights, once owned by another fashion icon – Hélène Rochas (1921-2011). Madame Rochas’s chandelier hung in the dining room of her Paris apartment at rue Barbet de Jouy up until her death in 2011, after which it was subsequently acquired by this gallery.
As here and like so many others of the period, both Gianni Versace’s and Madame Rochas’s chandelier were later wired for electricity, having originally intended to hold wax candles. Interestingly during the latter part of the nineteenth century the present chandelier was then converted to be lit by gas. This conversion was very sympathetically conducted, in which fine channels were drilled out to allow for the thin gas pipes. This had the added bonus that, with the advent of electric lighting, when the chandelier was converted to be fitted for electricity, the electric wires could be placed within the fine former gas channels and thus are undetectable to the eye when the chandelier is hung in situ.