LIGHT BY PASCAL MESTROM
"My interest in chandeliers arose during my visits to many palaces. The majestic and imposing appearance of the chandeliers hanging in the beautiful rooms, made a big impression on me. The complex set of so many parts and manifestations as a carrier of candlelight, intrigued me. Those parts differ in each country by the use of materials such as iron, bronze, wood, ivory, amber, antlers or glass or a combination thereof."
Since 2007, Pascal Mestrom, owner of Mestrom Chandeliers, is active in the restoration of and buying and selling of antique chandeliers. During many travels the last few years he gradually has been able to enlarge a unique house collection mainly consisting of eighteenthcentury French crystal chandeliers with, among other things, rock crystal decoration. Besides
he manages a collection of style pieces from the period of 1880-1920 in which the candlefunction is preserved alongside a subtle addition of an electrical interior lighting. Pascal Mestrom is a member of 'Light & Glass', a group of cognoscentes of chandeliers that scientifically conducts research on preservation and revaluation of the chandelier and he is a member of 'Pearls of Craftsmanship’, a special group of top craftsmen.
LIGHT FROM THE PAST
In the early Middle Ages the first chandeliers were made up of simple shapes such as a wheel or cross on which several candles were put. These chandeliers hung in a room
horizontally. Artists and craftsmen kept looking for new possibilities. They combined existing and new available materials, creating complex, sculptural frames in which the candles were placed.
ROCK CRYSTAL / CRISTAL DE ROCHE
"The questions, already fascinating me for years are, who added rock crystal and glass as pendants to the frame of the chandelier to allow the candlelight to reflect more optimally and where and when did this occur. To date I have not yet found a complete answer. I suspect it is related to the glass masters who migrated starting the mid sixteenth century from Italy, Venice and Altare to northern Europe, founding glassworks from Spain to Stockholm. Economic but also religious reasons accounted for this."
Pioneers among the glass masters were Bernardo Perotto and Jean Baptiste Mazzolay. Perotto founded the ‘Verrerie Royale d'Orléans' in 1668 and was the first able to pour glass in any possible shape. Mazzolay founded ‘La Manufacture Royale and Cristeaux the Bayel’ in 1678 and acquired the exclusive manufacturing and sales rights between Chaumont and Paris. He was commissioned by Sunking Louis XIV to deliver all the crystal in Versailles.
Seventeenth-century notes on the production of the glass decorations on chandeliers or house production of chandeliers are scarce. In a very special archive document 'Mercure Galant, Dedie à Monseigneur le Dauphin, octobre 1699, à Paris' the onset of a chandelier was described. In this document a certain Mr. Berrin, ‘dessinateur ordinaire’ at the court of Louis XIV, is reported. The king granted him exclusive after seeing a new method for
manufacturing an imitation of rock crystal (‘lustres de cristal fondu’). However, it is unclear whether Mr. Berrin purely has worked as a designer working with glass masters to execute the model or that he himself was also responsible for implementation. Most likely, this type of chandelier was a forerunner of the ‘lustre a cage’, the most classic form of the French crystal chandelier.
Kings and other nobles had buildings and quarters designed and decorated by the most leading architects, artists and craftsmen. The crystal chandelier is considered the pinnacle of these 'gesammt' artworks.
After returning from Venice the glass merchant George Ravenscroft (1632-1683) founded his own glassworks in England. This is where lead crystal or ‘flintglass' was invented about 1670. Perhaps this was an attempt to imitate the well-kept secret of Venetian 'cristallo'. Partly thanks to this invention they were able to produce fully in lead crystal executed chandeliers. These chandeliers were inspired on Dutch bronze orb chandeliers on which one gradually
also added more crystal decoration from 1730 onward.
With this lead crystal England dominated almost the entire eighteenth century to the chagrin of the French. The English models were again copied by Bohemian glass masters. Thus a type of chandelier arose which was then reproduced and technically completed in Liège, known as 'Lustres à la façon de Venise'.
THE EXPERIENCE OF A RESTORER
“In the last century candles on the chandeliers were replaced by electrical wiring and lights. I find this disappointing, as in my eyes the original function of the beautifully crafted candles carrier gets lost. The chandelier was thus degraded to merely a tool, an ordinary light organ. Due to the many restorations I performed, I returned the chandelier to its original condition. This process begins with the removal of a lot of electrical cords and dirt. I return the holders to a state where real candles can be used instead of electric light sources. Remounting and
replacing the decoration adds to my desire to fathom and understand the designers. This increased my affinity with candlelight tremendously. For me it is almost impossible to discard an authentic chandelier from its candlelight.