Research: Luce Center for American Art

Candelabrum
Accession #1998.89
Manufacturer Cornelius & Baker
TitleCandelabrum
Dateca. 1853
MediumGilded bronze
Dimensions32 x 18 1/4 x 18 1/4 in. (81.3 x 46.4 x 46.4 cm)
MarksImpressed on underside of base: "C & C"
Credit LineMarie Bernice Bitzer Fund
LocationAmerican Identities: Everyday Life / A Nation Divided
DescriptionRococo Revival style candelabrum, gilded cast bronze with a matte finish highlighted with brilliant polished details, elaborately encrusted with leaves and flower decorations. There are three main sections: a base unit with the stem supporting eight detachable candleholders and a turned bowl; a middle unit which sits over the bowl (a cover?), itself topped with a smaller turned bowl; and a upper ornamental cover/finial topped with a eagle. Each of these units is assembled of several sections tied together with a central threaded rod and screw. Base consists of a square platform with notched corners and slightly concave sides, raised on acanthus leaf feet. Main columnar stem rises from base and is covered with projecting scroll and foliate forms. Stem supports a bowl covered with flowers. Below bowl, eight elaborately scrolled brackets serve as arms for the candle sockets. The middle section consists of openwork domed top that fits into the bowl and rises in lobes to a smaller bowl. The uppermost section is a domed lid for the bowl, covered with flowers and surmounted by an eagle finial. Condition: Fair, the gilding is abraded and there are many darkened areas due to corrosion of the underlying bronze; one arm is repaired; one of the bolted scroll feet exhibits cracking around the rosette and on the scroll.

Curatorial Remarks:

Cornelius & Company exhibited a pair of fifteen-foot-tall candelabra in the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and was hailed as the leading manufacturer of metal lighting in the United States. Two years later, the first World's Fair in the "New World" was held in New York in another cast-iron Crystal Palace erected in what is now Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library. Again, Cornelius & Baker exhibited their impressive lighting devices, including a version of this monumental candelabrum encrusted with leaves and flowers. The top section of the candelabrum can be removed and replaced with a glass bowl to hold flowers.