Exceptional opal glass chandelier
Opal glass, Crystal, Gilded bronze
Height: 110 cm (43.3 in.) ; Diam. : 87 cm (34.2 in.)
Rare Baccarat opal glass chandelier composed of a cup suspended by six opal glass and gilded bronze articulated chains from which go twelve cut-crystal light-arms and of a ceiling lamp with cut edge. Rich decoration of a « bleu céleste » opal-glass background enhanced with a golden decor and bouquets of flowers. The whole is embellished with a lovely gilded bronze mount of foliage motifs.
That elegant floral decoration was probably painted by Jean-François Robert (1778-1870), who was a painter at the Sèvres porcelain Manufacture and who worked for the Baccarat Manufacture between 1845 and 1860. The first painted decorations on opal crystal were baked at low-temperature and were easily damaged. The creation of a painted and vitrified decoration allowed stabilising durably on the opal glass an abundant and vivid decoration often composed of flowers and enhanced with gold.
The technic of opal glass, obtained by addition of tin oxide, was known in Venice as soon as the 16th century. However it was only in 1810 that this technic was adapted to crystal in France. The first opal crystal pieces were adorned with a cutwork and gilt bronze mounts, but short after the painted and baked decoration then developed adorned opal crystal pieces with polychrome and refined ornaments, creating real paintings on opal crystal.
The famous crystal manufacture of Baccarat, that dates back to the XVIIIth century, was awarded its first medal in 1823, during the “Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie” for the “brilliance and the sharpness of its crystal” and became then the most renowned French “cristallerie”. Baccarat was undoubtedly the only French manufacture, that exhibited steadily and magnificently its products at the various Universal Exhibitions, and especially between 1855 and 1867. In all reports one can read about the “perfection of the material and of its cut”. To keep its wealthy clientele, among which the Royal family, Baccarat must discover new styles and decors as well as new material, as shows that beautiful opal glass, which became one of Baccarat’s specialities in the 1850’s.