Chandelier

  • Designer / Maker

    Designed by A.W.N. Pugin (1812-52)

    Manufactured by John Hardman & Co. (1838-1900)

  • Detail

    Brass, with glass and enamel decoration

    120 in (304.8 cm) × 72 in (182.8 cm) – maximum diameter

    English (Birmingham), 1853

  • Provenance

    The Pole family, Aldenham Abbey, Hertfordshire

  • Collection

    Art Institute of Chicago

  • Notes

    Pugin’s drawing for this chandelier form is on loan to the City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham; see Michael Fisher, Hardman of Birmingham – Goldsmith and Glasspainter, Ashbourne, 2008, p. 103. The first version, with 42 lights, was supplied to the Earl of Shrewsbury and was also shown as a centrepiece of the Mediaeval Court at the Great Exhibition, 1851; this chandelier, for which Shrewsbury was charged £150 on 20 November 1851, may be the one now hanging in the Pugin Room at the Palace of Westminster; see Fisher, loc. cit. A second example, supplied to the second Earl Somers remains in situ at Eastnor Castle; see Clive Wainwright, ‘Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire – II’, Country Life, 20 May 1993, p. 91, fig. 3.

    The Aldenham Abbey chandelier was ordered by Henrietta Pole, wife of William Stuart (a grandson of the British Prime Minister, the Earl of Bute), through the firm of Crace. Henrietta was a cousin of Earl Somers, and Reginald Cocks, another member of the family, intervened at an early stage in the commissioning of the chandelier for Aldenham Abbey. Perhaps Henrietta had admired the Eastnor Castle chandelier and so the choice of design was no coincidence.

    The Aldenham Abbey chandelier must have been ordered sometime before 1 May 1853, when Crace wrote to Hardman enclosing a drawing of the Pole and Stuart armorials (see left). Henrietta died on 20 July 1853 and the chandelier was eventually charged to her executors on 9 September 1853 for £90. The Hardman ‘Metal Sales Day Book’ records: ‘A Brass Chandelier 48 lights in two tiers, with centre post, foliage branches & pierced pans to hold the glasses and light: large cut glass Bulb at bottom’ (Birmingham Central Library, MS 175A/4/4/3/3, f. 588). Hardman’s also charged on 30 September 1853 for ‘Mens Time & Travelling Expenses to Aldenham Abbey’ (‘Metal Sales Day Book’, f. 597).