Twenty-four-light chandelier (lustre) (one of a pair)
Gilt bronze, rock crystal
H. 62 x W. 45 in. (157.5 x 114.3 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1971
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 524
Numerous entries in the account book for the period 1748–58 of the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux show that he not only sold, shipped, and installed chandeliers but also took them apart for cleaning or repairs and reassembled them afterward. At times Duvaux would also provide crystal drops, finials, and globes to replace missing ones or mend those that were broken. This may explain why the late eighteenth-century frames of this magnificent pair of chandeliers incorporate earlier crystal pendants in their design. Arranged in three tiers, ropetwisted candle arms alternate with inward-scrolling branches decorated with acanthus leaves, stylized seedpods, and crystal finials. The elaborate model further includes gilt-bronze chains with crystal beads as well as a profusion of crystal drops and balls raining down from the umbrella-shaped row of arms near the top and from the multiple branches below. The splendid impression such fixtures created when lit did not escape the baronne d'Oberkirch. Describing a concert held in May 1782, during the visit of Grand Duke Paul of Russia and his duchess, Maria Feodorovna, to Versailles, she noted particularly that "the palace was all brilliantly illuminated, as on days of high ceremonial. A thousand chandeliers were suspended from the ceilings, and candelabra holding forty candles each were placed on top of the console tables. . . . Nothing can express this splendor and opulence."
[Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, 2010]
Footnotes:  Henriette Louise de Waldner de Freundstein, baronne d'Oberkirch. Mémoires de la baronne d'Oberkirch sur la cour de Louis XVI et la société française avant 1789. [Written 1789.] Edited by Suzanne Burkhard. Paris, 1970, p. 156.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1971; to MMA)