When you hang a chandelier in your house you acquire something practical and beautiful and an object that will become a focus for the room. Other decorations will revolve around it. It will become a talking point, the centrepiece. A fireplace draws attention to a lower level in a room; whereas a chandelier is the highest point of a room’s decoration.
Never in the long history of the chandelier has there been such choice as there is today. You can buy in person or over the internet. You can scour or the junk shops in England or America or the brocante stalls in France.
Perhaps the longest established and best known chandelier maker in France is the firm of Baccarat, which continues to thrive today.
Chandeliers come in all shapes and sizes – some more unusual than others. Amongst some of the most charming eccentric chandeliers are those designed to represent hot-air balloons. The early nineteenth century saw a wave of enthusiasm for hot-air balloons, prompted by the first balloon flight by the Montgolfier brothers, Joseph and Michel travelling through the air for some six miles in 1783. Some Montgolfier chandeliers are French others Italian.
The type of chandelier which is associated with French work is more open with its main structural support supplied not by chains or a stem but rather by a cage or frame with prettily curved members, often gilded and with candles or drops in the centre space. Like English chandeliers, they have chains of drops and pendants.
The difference is that instead of being massed together, they are however spaced further apart so that they can be seen individually. The effect is extremely ornate and delicate without being elaborate.
The ironwork on French chandeliers by the 1900s was superbly attractive and refined. The stem might have leaves and stalks curling off it supporting crystal drops, flowers and beads. For all the bags and festoons of drops, glass arms, full panoply of other elements, the French chandelier is distinctively never heavy or crowded and always alluring.
One of the things you need to be absolutely sure of is that your chandelier is safe; that when it is installed it will stay up, it will not electrocute anyone or it won’t shed pieces on your head or burn the house down.
If you bought you chandelier from a market or a brocante you should use common sense about its wiring. Any chandelier is only as safe as good electrically speaking as the circuit of which it is part. Have it tested by a qualified electrician and rewired if in doubt.