Lithuanian National Museum of Art

Inv. No. TM-840

Address: Arsenalo str. 3A, Vilnius

Time of origin: 1887–1911

Place of origin: Central Europe

Material, Technique: bronze, copper alloy: casting, repoussé; remains of gilding; glass, crystal: casting, polishing, embossing

Dimensions: height – 80 cm

A crystal chandelier preserved in the Lithuanian National Museum of Art belongs to a stem type. Three small polished glass tubes and four plates with tendrils are alternately threaded in the upper part of the stem. In the middle of the chandelier's stem, there is a highly-profiled hexagon detail made of glass with a closed metal disc beneath and six arms attached. They are horizontal, each consisting of three waves. Undecorated flat-surface sconces are mounted at the ends of the arms. Beneath each branch, there are three protrusions with holes for pendants, which probably did not survive. Stem beneath the crown of arms terminates with finial*, six tendrils and pendants.

Thirty-two large pendants of five sorts hang on the tendrils of the chandelier: at the top — diamond-shaped, beneath — the shape of flat oak leaves with an embossed star, trellis, a cello-shape and with a low edge towards the middle. A monograph by the famous German art historian Käthe Klappenbach about the glass/crystal chandeliers up to 1810, provides a catalogue of pendants [2]. At different times, these fragile decorations were given different shapes. They were ornately polished and embossed.

Looking at the chandelier's structure, it can be seen that pendants hooked on the tendrils create an extended vertical view of the chandelier. Based on the surviving examples in Western Europe, the widest and most significant part in the design of this chandelier should be the crown of arms. Unfortunately, the most significant part is lost, and pendants do not decorate the arms (another 21 pendants should hang on them).

Iconographic and written sources testify that crystal/glass chandeliers were quite numerous in Lithuanian manors and churches. The fragility of the material and the unfavourable historical circumstances led to the low survival of crystal chandeliers in Lithuania. Due to the exceptional size of the pendants, this chandelier in Lithuania is typologically rare.

* Finial [in Latin finire means to end or to complete] — lilac blossom, bud or draped vase-shape decoration. It was used in architecture and furniture decoration. Bulb, fruit, leaves or flower bouquet — decoration of the same purpose — is also called finial [1].

Literature and sources:
  1. Dailės žodynas, Vilnius: Vilniaus dailės akademijos leidykla, 1999, p. 125.
  2. Klappenbach Käthe, Kronleuchter: Mit Behang aus Bergkristall und Glas sowie Glasarmkronleuchter bis 1810, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2001.
  3. Valtaitė-Gagač Alantė, XVII a.–XX a. 4 dešimtmečio sietynų paveldas Lietuvoje: Daktaro disertacija, Vilnius: Vilniaus dailės akademija, 2015, p. 39–45, 77, 78.