Wood painted to simulate bronze, and parcel-gilt, with metal chains and crown
106.7 (drop) x 51 cm
English, circa 1815
One of the most famous antique hanging lights is the magnificent fifth century BC Etruscan bronze oil lamp now in the museum at Cortona; see P. Bruschetti, et al., Il Museo dell’ Accademia Etrusca di Cortona, Cortona, 1988, fig. 34. It is lamps such as this that inspired designers from the neo-classical era. Thomas Hope used light fittings of this form for his interiors at Duchess Street; see, for example, Household Furniture, London, 1807, pl. 4.
The form of the present chandelier, with its arms emulating the receptacles for oil on antique prototypes, is unusual for being made almost entirely from wood. A ‘boat-shaped’ hanging light, in wood, is illustrated in Margaret Jourdain, Regency Furniture 1795–1820, London, 1948 edn, fig. 197, and another, formerly with Temple Williams, is shown in Splendor and Elegance, ex’n cat., Boston, 2009, no. 75. Both lamps, and the present example, are constructed with a raised central holder for a ‘flame’ or, as here, for a candle.
The Greek key pattern around the chandelier’s rim has parallels in the work of George Bullock; see, for example, the tripods supplied by George Bullock and William Bullock for Hinton House (Martin Levy, ‘The Roman Gallery at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, and Some Tripods by William Bullock and George Bullock’ Furniture History, XXXIII (1997), p. 235, fig. 6). In keeping with contemporary fashion, George Bullock advertised ‘a great variety of superlatively elegant … Grecian and Roman Lamps … for Drawing-rooms’; see Liverpool Chronicle, 26 February 1806, p. 2.