For all one knows, no other ornamental piece has demonstrated so well-known and long-lasting throughout the centuries and across varied countries aside from Italy than the chandelier. Its existence spanning over 800 years and continuously changing, chandeliers reflects the increasing affluence and power of the most prominent levels of our society, including technological evolution and craftsmanship. Since its birth, the chandelier has been correlated with royalty and nobility that preserved its image as a representation of affluence, opulence, and magnificence. Tracking the development of the chandelier consequently includes following the history of several monarchs, mainly from the 15th to 19th centuries when we witnessed the appearance of the most distinguishable and undying designs.
It is important to learn about the development of the Venetian chandeliers, different from the other European styles. This is because Venetian chandeliers took a different turn when it came to its evolution, prompting unique styles and manufacturing techniques. They are the results of the remarkable glass-making industry of Murano, a small island close to Venice, Italy. It started in 1291 when it was commanded that all glass making process must be shifted from the capital city of Italy to the island because of fire risks. Not long after, the government instituted ironclad laws prohibiting emigration and glassmakers in the locality from working their profession outside the island. The initiative constituted the aim to suppress glass production and its desired secrets in a single location and therefore maintain a Darwinian edge in the face of foreign rivalry. But, in spite of the imposition of progressively strict sanctions for intransigent workers, which involved captivity and assassinations, relocation from Murano to the rest of the European continent was to carry on throughout the imminent years.
15th – Early 17th century is the golden age of Murano glass production. It began in the 1400s after the invention of the transparent glass called as “crystallo”. Different from rock crystals or lead glass, Venetian glass is melted and shaped that makes it more pliable, adding itself to complex designs and also a mellow look. Along with his successors, Barovier created several methods that gave Murano glass its unique design. It includes chalcedony to make glasses in several colors and milk glass, prompted by Chinese porcelain.
It wasn’t until the 1700s that the first glass chandeliers emerged. A famous craftsman, Giuseppe Briati, created the style of what is now known as the classic Murano chandelier. It incorporates a metal axis in the middle which included several arms with multi-colored or glass flowers; fruits and leaves; shaped crystals. These chandeliers were usually very big as well as being one of the most colorful and complex of all designs.
Regrettably, the popularity of Murano glass directly caused a term of crisis distinguished by a major decline in supply and demand from the 17th century and beyond. Even with the strict measures, the Venetian glass was widely copied throughout Europe. Glass making in foreign markets also started to present a grave challenge during this time. One major example is the increasing popularity of Bohemian glass and English lead glass respectively because of its potash crystal material and high refractive properties. After the invasion of Napoleon, glass production, alongside with other several industries, declined greatly, several factories shut down and some methods were completely neglected.