One of the most popular trends in recent times has been to decorate our homes in in a minimalist style. A cross between an oriental Zen-like quality and the simplicity of Scandinavian design with little or no ornamentation and definitely no clutter! Whilst this clean minimalist look is fine in modern homes it does not always sit well in more traditional interiors. But the tide is now turning and we are seeing a return to luxurious and opulent styles in what is now being dubbed the ‘maximalist style’.
Nothing epitomizes the maximalist style more than Baroque and Rococo and, in this blog, we will be taking a look at these styles in a little more detail and show you some of the Baroque and Rococo lighting on offer at Bespoke Lights.
The Baroque period dominated 17th and 18th century Europe. A flamboyant exuberant style with lavish ornate decorations and lots of gilding. No-one is sure where the word baroque came from but it is thought to derive from the Portuguese ‘barroco’, a word used by jewelers to describe irregular and strange shaped pearls. The luxurious Baroque style was all encompassing, influencing painting, sculpture music, ballet and theatre as well as architecture, furnishing and decorations. Initially the overriding theme was religious but over time it became synonymous with wealth, grandeur and power.
Baroque buildings were vast, grand and monumental in size and no mention of Baroque would be complete without reference to Rome and its multitude of Baroque churches, fountains and public squares. The impressive Trevi fountain shown on the left is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome and was designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and constructed by Pietro Bracci. It has featured in several notable films.
Possibly the most famous palace built in the Baroque style is the Chateau of Versailles in France. Baroque architecture on such a grand scale required equally impressive interiors and the Hall of Mirrors in the Chateau of Versailles, shown below, is a glittering example.
Even today the impact of Baroque is all around us. Many of our stately homes are richly decorated in the Baroque style. Careful preservation and conservation of Baroque buildings and interiors ensure we are never too far away from the age of opulence.
Baroque lighting has a flamboyant but very formal style. It is lavish, elegant, ornate, rich and romantic – above all decoration and more decoration, with lots of curves, gold swirls and swags.
Two impressive chandeliers of grand proportions in the classic Flemish style are shown above. Both the 25 light Cambridge chandelier on the left and the 32 light Flemish chandelier on the right are hand crafted in solid brass with polished gold finishes. These are elegant classics in the Baroque style that simply ooze quality and tradition. Not for the average home but certainly ones to consider for larger spaces such as hotel foyers, large stairwells or for lighting in our larger churches.
Main staircases were great Baroque features and would certainly have warranted a luxurious chandelier in the stairwell.
The two lavishly decorated chandeliers shown above would make impressive feature lights in large stairwells. Providing just the right amount of Baroque sparkle and creating an enchanting yet dignified look. The 12 light Valentina chandelier on the left has an oxidised bronze frame with crystal decorations. On the right is the 18 light Katie chandelier which offers a high impact Baroque look replicating crystal but at a more affordable price.
How could these chandeliers possibly fit into the average home? Whilst we agree they may not be for everyone, they certainly looks stunning in the right setting and are ideal for lighting in traditional Georgian, Regency and Edwardian interiors where they can be shown off to best advantage. This baroque effect can be replicated today in more modest period homes by using smaller chandeliers. Candelabra wall brackets and table lights would have been used for additional lighting during the Baroque era and these can be used very effectively today to replicate the Baroque feel in suitable properties.
The Cambridge double and single wall lights and the 6 light chandelier shown above compliment the larger 36 light chandelier shown earlier and are much easier to place in smaller rooms. This is a range of lights from our Lincoln American Collection that features light fittings of the highest quality that are hand crafted in solid brass. Both the chandeliers and wall lights in the range can be used simply with candle style bulbs or teamed with fabric shades. Shades create a warmer more homely feel and can be chosen to compliment the furnishings in the room.
The beautiful and lavishly decorated Anora candelabra table and floor lamp shown here will add the perfect finishing touches in traditionally decorated Georgian sitting rooms and dining rooms. Candelabra or multi-branching candle holders have been around for many years and were originally use to provide extra candle power to light homes during Georgian and Regency and times. They were initially rather functional but over the years became more elaborate. Both these lamps are in a dark walnut finish and have 5 candle style light adorned with glamorous crystal droplets. The tall candle drips are darker at the top to replicate the dripping wax – the look can be replicated today by using old fashioned LED candle flame bulbs.
The Rococo style came to the fore in the late Baroque period and in many ways was similar but with a few significant differences. Rococo was primarily concerned with interior decorations – furniture, silver ceramics and was a reaction against the more formal Louis X1V style. It began in France around 1725 where it was known as ‘style rocaille’ meaning rock or broken shells as motifs using shells frequently adorned Rococo ornaments. This was a more relaxed graceful style which created interiors designed as works of art with elegant furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, tapestries and paintings.
Emphasis was placed on the hand-crafted quality of Rococo objects and natural motifs were a feature of both British and French Rococo. The acanthus leaf was one of the basic motifs used – this is a more styilised version of the real Acanthus Mollis that is still seen in our gardens today.
Interior images from Powderham Castle, a popular tourist attraction near Exeter and home to the Earl and Countess of Devon. It was built between 1390 and 1490 but was badly damaged during the Civil War. Restorations ran through to the 19th century and the interiors are largely Georgian in style. The spectacular mahogany staircase hall shown on the left features some of the finest Rococo plasterwork in Europe. The music room on the right is decorated in the Rococo style with a Carrara marble fireplace by Richard Westmacott. Images courtesy of Manfred Heyde (© Creative Commons)
Rococo lighting was characterized by the use of a central chandeliers, often with matching wall sconces. These chandeliers would have been the centre piece in larger rooms and featured gently flowing arms, often hand crafted with acanthus leaves and foliage, and adorned with crystal and cut-glass droplets.
The two chandeliers shown above are from our New Orleans Lighting Collection and designed by American artist and sculptor Paul Gruer. Both are in antique gold and whilst not strictly Rococo light fittings they do share many of the same characteristics and would sit easily in traditional interiors. The French inspired Mignon chandelier on the right is a blend of time worn textures with an elegant shape that combine together to hint at the secret luxury of times gone by. The Mosaic chandelier on the left has 10 candle style lights and is adorned with strands of mosaic jewels. They would both make stunning centre pieces in large dining rooms or entrance hallways as they look good from any angle.
Metals used for Rococo light fittings would have included cast brass and bronze often in an antique gold finish.
The Classic 6 light chandelier and double wall light shown above are from UK lighting manufacturer David Hunt Lighting and exhibit elements of both Baroque and Rococo styling.The antique gold frames are richly decorated with elegantly curved arms with Rococo style acanthus leaves and dressed with Baroque style tassels. Quality fittings that sit well in traditional period homes where they will provide a refined elegant look.
The three wall brackets shown above are further offerings from David Hunt Lighting who have a well earned reputation for their quality UK made light fittings. They can be incorporated easily into traditional period homes and they all feature the decorative leaf detailing that is very much associated with Rococo lighting. A beautiful classic look that will provide a low level of background light.
Rococo was also influenced by chinoiserie – a decorative style characterized by the use of Chinese motifs and techniques. Chinese figures and decorative pieces were often incorporated into rooms decorated in the Rococo style. The Chinoiserie vases shown here date from the 18th century. The classic blue and white Delft vase is decorated with traditional oriental scenes whilst the more elaborately decorated vase on the right (from Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire) depicts a typical Oriental scene of flowering shrubs and birds.
The Oriental influenced table lamps shown above are from our Empire Table Lamp Collection which showcases quality designer lamps of the highest quality. They exude class and style and are held in high regard by interior designers and retailers alike. All the lamps are in the classic Chinese temple jar shape. Vases like this were used to store a variety of things but when they were imported to the West they often contained preserved ginger and became known as ginger jars. Lamps like this will happily provide some extra mood lighting in traditional interiors decorated in the Rococo style.
Many more reproduction Baroque and Rococo lights that have all the benefits that modern electric lighting has to offer are available to buy on our Bespoke Lights website. Many of our fittings can be customised to meet your requirements and we can work with our manufacturing partners to produce bespoke custom-made lights – simply contact us if you would like more details.
To read more about lighting in traditional homes click on the link below to take you to our guide on ‘Lighting Through the Ages’