A fine Louis XVI gilt bronze and rock crystal twelve light chandelier fourth quarter 18th century
The arched corona above a hexagonal ring suspending faceted chains centering a faceted crystal standard issuing twelve scrolled candle arms with circular dished drip pans and vasiform candle cups above a circular pendant suspending a rock crystal orb, overall with faceted shaped rock crystal prisms and chains. height 48in (122cm); greatest diameter 36in (92cm)
Provenance: Thomas W. Morgan Inc., Los Angeles
Rock crystal was first recorded being used on chandeliers in the 16th century in Italy. As well as being a precious and valuable stone, it magnified the effect of candlelight. By the 17th century rock crystal was highly valued by the French court and by Louis XIV and his successors. Much of the rock crystal was imported from Italy, specifically St. Cloia and Milan. Giuseppe Cattaneo of Milan supplied rock crystal to Louis XV.
Chandeliers of rock crystal became iconic images of power. Cardinal Mazarin had an impressive one hanging from a solid silver chain. Nicolas Fouquet, the unfortunate Minister of Finance for Louis XIV, had nine rock crystal chandeliers of importance installed at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Louis XIV gave his mistress Madame La Valliere a rock crystal chandelier valued at 2,000 livres. The rock crystal chandelier hanging in the throne room of Fontainebleau, now in the Mobilier National, cost in excess of 50,000 francs in the mid 18th century.
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