This elegant early example of a fully cut glass chandelier, made in England between 1760 and 1765, would have hung in the home of an English aristocrat. It is made up of 34 separate cut glass elements: 12 arms, 12 drip pans, and a ten-piece stem with metal mounts.
In the 17th century, lighting fixtures were originally constructed from rock crystal. Glass, however, was easier than rock crystal to manipulate into desired shapes, was softer to cut, was more accessible and affordable, and produced the same desired reflective effects. The first glass chandeliers can be traced to about 1720, after glass arms for candles had already been made for use in candlesticks and sconces. Initially, these candle arms were plain. Molded glass arms were attempted, but the facets did not produce the desired refractive qualities. Cut glass arms, seen as a risky accomplishment, were soon to follow. Cut glass amplified the reflected candlelight used to illuminate 18th-century interiors, creating brilliant centerpieces. The inclusion of pendant ornaments in the mid-18th century would be the next evolutionary stage for English chandeliers.
Complete examples of 18th century cut glass chandeliers are difficult to find. The museum acquired an 18th century cut glass chandelier in the 1960s that was later discovered to be a pastiche, as it was made up of elements from various periods. Remarkably, this example possesses all original elements except for one replacement piece, which is dated to the period it was made.
Some of the most prominent chandelier makers of the mid-18th century were Maydwell and Windle, Jonathan Collett, Colebron Hancock, and William Parker. Although some chandeliers are attributed to these makers through period advertisements, it is nearly impossible to identify makers since chandeliers, like this one, are unsigned.