DUTCH BALL CHANDELIERS
Regarded as the jewel in the crown of all ceiling lights, chandeliers are a statement of elegance and glamour. Their popularity has endured throughout the centuries and they were, and to some extent still are, associated with wealth, power and social standing.
Chandeliers were closely linked with royalty and the aristocracy, which added to their status as symbols of wealth and luxury. Throughout history chandeliers have been hung in castles, churches and cathedrals. theatres, museums and Royal palaces.
The first chandeliers date back to the Middle Ages. These were simple affairs made from crossed pieces of wood with spikes to hold candles and mostly used for lighting in Medieval churches. Over the years designs became more elaborate, combining the practical function of providing essential lighting with more decorative fittings. Chandeliers are still regarded as impressive centrepieces offering the ultimate in lighting sophistication.
Flemish style chandeliers were the first chandeliers to make a real impression. They have stood the test of time and been re-invented and updated over the years. Available now in a choice of finishes and designs yet still managing to retain their timeless quality and elegance. Less ornate than most chandeliers, they are easier to place in both period and modern interiors.
These two early oil paintings, shown above, both feature Flemish chandeliers. On the left is the ‘Arnolfini Portrait’ by Jan van Eyck painted in 1434 and housed at the National Gallery in London. The second painting on the right is from the lesser known Dutch artist Gerrit Dou and dates from 1663. This one is entitled ‘The Dropsical Woman’ and is on display at the Louvre in Paris.
Characteristics of Flemish Chandeliers
Flemish chandeliers, or Dutch ball chandeliers as they are also know, date back to the 15th century and were made in polished brass or silver. Prior to this chandeliers were simple rustic fittings constructed in wood or wrought iron. The defining feature of Flemish chandeliers is the central ball stem or baluster which consists of a large brass sphere or series of spherical globes which support the upward curving arms and candle lights. Polished brass was the ideal material for these chandeliers as the light from the candles would have been reflected from the highly polished surfaces.
The large, Cambridge 25 light classic, Flemish style chandelier shown above exhibits all the characteristic features of traditional Flemish chandeliers. It is hand made in solid brass with a typical highly polished gold finish. Seldom will you see such an impressive light fitting made to such a high standard. The central frame has solid cast ball components, brass turnings and beaded brass edges. A well balanced, graceful fitting with sweeping brass arms and tall candle lights with milky white sleeves and brass detailing. This is a light of grand proportions suitable for larger spaces.
Another elegant, timeless classic that simply oozes quality and tradition. This Flemish style chandelier is hand crafted in Ireland from solid brass and available to order in a choice of finishes. It is shown here in the traditional polished gold finish. The 32 candle lights are arranged in 3 tiers in a 16+8+8 combination. It is perfect for large stairwells, lighting in churches or hotel foyers. Longer chain can be provided to extend the drop if required. .
Aside from being decorative features the central globes or balls were heavy which stabalised the fittings and stopped them from swinging about in any draughts. Keeping the chandeliers level also allowed the candles to burn more evenly.
The Chamberlain 6 light Flemish style chandelier shown here is made in solid brass using traditional casting techniques and has been finished in a soft mellow patina. The characteristic sweeping arms carry the tall candle style lights with their cream candle sleeves.
Production of these chandeliers was concentrated in the prosperous Flemish town of Dinant, located in what is now modern day Belgium. Dinant became a centre of excellence in the production of finely cast brass ware which was known as ‘dinanderie’. In addition to the chandeliers other brass items were made including domestic objects such as candlesticks, fire irons and basins as well as ecclesiastical altar furniture for the churches.
Dutch ball chandeliers were much in demand throughout Europe. The style proved very popular in England and we imported more Dutch brass ware than any other country. English manufacturers went on to emulate the basic style and the first English crystal chandeliers were created in this style with large crystal balls.
The smaller 5 light and larger 9 light chandeliers above are from UK lighting manufacturer David Hunt. An updated look that still remains traditional and exhibits the instantly recognisable globe spheres that are the main feature of Flemish chandeliers. They are finished in a delicate distressed powder grey finish with subtle gold highlights. These chandeliers can be custom made in almost any colour to match your interior and longer chain and cable can be supplied if needed.
This is the larger 15 light version of the same David Hunt Lighting Flemish chandelier. A substantial fitting with a long drop of 2.4 metres. Just perfect for lighting in larger Georgian and Regency homes and hotels. The delicate powder grey finish add a fresh vibe and is more delicate that the more traditional metal finishes.
Using Flemish Style Chandeliers
Flemish chandeliers have remained popular for over 400 years and the reproduction Flemish chandeliers of today make wonderful statement lights for period homes. A luxurious addition that will add grandeur to entrance halls, sitting rooms, dining rooms or bedrooms. Much prized for their classic sophistication they are ideally suited to Georgian, Regency, Victorian and Edwardian interiors. From simple single tier designs to the larger more elaborate multi-tiered affairs, there is a Flemish style chandelier to suit whatever the size of your space.
The Polina lighting range offers a comprehensive choice of Flemish style ceiling lights, ranging from small 3 light fittings up to more substantial 12 light chandeliers. The smallest 3 light chandeliers, shown above and below, work well in smaller rooms and they are available in either antique brass or nickel finishes. Benefiting from a dual mount facility they can be fitted semi-flush, as shown above, for lighting in rooms with lower ceilings. For taller ceilings they can be installed as hanging chandeliers as shown below. Essentially in a traditional Flemish style enriched with faceted crystal ball detailing, this is classic lighting at its best.
The original Flemish chandeliers were made in polished brass and, unlike crystal chandeliers, the solid brass used for today’s better quality reproductions will need far less maintenance. Regular dusting and the occasional clean with a soft dry cloth should keep them looking good for a great many years to come. Light Flemish style chandeliers with candle bulbs for a traditional look or add some clip-on candle shades to give a more personal, homely appearance.
The same Polina 3 light Flemish style chandeliers, as featured above, are shown below with the addition of faux silk, pleated candle shades. Using candle shades gives a warmer, more cosy feel and the shade colour can be selected to co-ordinate with your decor.
Shown here are the Chamberlain reproduction Flemish chandeliers from our Sandringham Collection. The same fitting is shown with and without shades. These are exquisitely crafted fittings made in solid brass with a soft mellow finish which is lacquered for protection. Impressive chandeliers with graceful flowing arms and 12 candle lights carried over 2 tiers. Ideal for lighting in traditional Georgian and Regency interiors. With or without shades, the choice is yours.
The two chandeliers shown here are essentially the same 9 light fittings made in the classic Flemish style but in rather different finishes. Manufactured in the Cotswolds by UK lighting manufacturer David Hunt Lighting these 2 tier fittings are perfectly suited to traditional interiors. The simple matt bronze version is pictured with candle bulbs giving a more authentic feel whilst the other one is in an antique cream finish completed with natural weave shades for a softer look. This range is available to order in a choice of sizes and finishes.
Shown in all the remaining images is the impressive Tilburg range. This collection has been updated using crystal spheres and glass bobeches that combine with the graceful sweeping arms to give a balanced look. Quality made fittings that manage to retain the feel of of traditional lighting in the Flemish style where refined elegance was the order of the day. All these pictures feature the same 5 light chandelier in different guises. Illustrated immediately below in the warm antique brass finish either with or without shades.
The same 5 light chandelier is shown below in the polished nickel finish. Again either with candle style bulbs or teamed with a choice of black, chocolate brown or white faux silk pleated shades.
All the Flemish style chandeliers featured in this blog are supplied with link chain suspensions that can be shortened to suit the ceiling height when fitting. These are versatile lights available in a range of different sizes and finishes that will add the classic, timeless character and style that is the hallmark of the original Flemish chandeliers.