When you hang a chandelier in your house you acquire something beautiful and practical and an object that will become a focus for the room. All 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; a chandelier is the highest point of a room's decoration. Never in the long history of the chandelier has there been as much choice as there is today. You can buy over the internet or in person.
You can scour the brocante stalls in French markets or the junk shops in England or America. 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 arms, often gilded and with drops or candles in the centre space. Like English chandeliers, they have pendants and chains of drops. 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 refined and attractive. The stem might have leaves and stalks curling off it supporting crystal drops, flowers and beads. For all the festoons and bags drops, glass arms, full panoply of other elements, the French chandelier is distinctively never heavy or crowded and always alluring.
Perhaps the longest established and best known chandelier company in France is the firm of Baccarat, which continues to thrive today. Chandeliers come in all sizes and shapes - some more unusual than others. Amongst some of the most eccentric charming 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 6 miles in 1783. Some Montgolfier chandeliers are Italian others French.
One of the things you need to be completely 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 good as safe electrically speaking as the circuit of which it is part. Have it tested by an electrician and rewired if in doubt.
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