A Venetian chandelier, also referred to as Murano glass chandelier, undoubtedly stands for splendor, luxury and status of the highest degree. Since its origin in the seventeenth century, this masterpiece has been captivating our hearts in endless forms. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of its history and transition to present times.
The phrase chandelier has its origin in the Latin word candela denoting candle and then in the French word chandelabre in the 10th century. The earliest chandeliers primarily featured a wooden cross to secure candles on it and were suspended to an appropriate height using a chain or rope. Then came the era of wood or metal chandeliers consisting of an ancient column shape with support at the center and elongated arms with drop-shaped pendants and curved facets. In the 17th century, glass took the place of wood and metal because of its superior light refraction property.
Acknowledged as the purest and most exquisite glass on the planet, Venetian glass has been carrying the unmatched legacy and craftsmanship of Murano glassmakers since the 12th century. It is hard to believe how gifted artisans using a small number of straightforward iron tools have been able to create an array of wonderful glass objects. The sizeable credit should also go to the glass itself. Made of soda crystal, Murano glass is known for its quality to remain in the malleable state for a long time period before requiring to be put in the fire. Hence, it allowed glass artists to create all sorts of complicated patterns and thin layers in the form of leaves and flowers.
Glass chandeliers came into being after the wood, iron and brass age of chandeliers and shot to limelight instantly due to several unique properties of the material. Venetian glass especially revived the sagging fortunes of Murano glassmakers who were till then competing against more popular glass manufacturers from other regions.
The first instance of a Murano glass chandelier adorning a royal palace can be dated back to 1709 when Frederick IV of Denmark embarked on a journey to this island to own a chandelier and many other glass objects.
Not appropriate for faceting, Murano glass had several other exceptional qualities that glassmakers capitalized on to take its popularity to a whole new level. The distinctive features of a Venetian blown glass chandelier include elaborate arrangements of flowers, fruits and leaves accented by colorful finishes. In the 18th century, a novel kind of chandelier known as ‘ciocca’ (a bouquet of flowers) redefined the way Murano glass lighting fixtures were produced. It was characterized by several arms adorned with multihued flowers and leaves.
Ciocca was made popular by a famous Venetian glassmaker named Giuseppe Briati who produced many big chandeliers for decorating the interiors of major palaces and theaters. He was also the brain behind the now well-known Rezzonico chandeliers, having derived its name from the dignified Venetian family Rezzonico for which Briati had designed a classic chandelier. Made by hand completely, Rezzonico chandeliers feature arms that are painstakingly formed by lots of tiny pieces of glass.
After the huge success of the 18th century, the production of Murano chandeliers came to a standstill for several decades due to the occupancy of the Venetian Republic by soldiers of Napoleon. It was only in the mid 19th century that the production in the island got back to normalcy and rose again. Even after so many ups and downs of previous centuries, these chandeliers continue to be the most sought after products for people all over the world. Adding a Venetian chandelier to any interior is still a matter of pride and status today.
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