Pair of Gilt-Bronze Chandeliers by Edward F. Caldwell

June 28 2010, 2:41pm

A Pair of gilt-wood twelve light chandeliers in the William and Mary Taste by Edward F. Caldwell

New York. Circa 1900.

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Marks: Each stamped within a lozenge: C (manufactory initial) Measurements: Height: 39″ (99 cm); Diameter: 44″ (112 cm).

Description: Edward Caldwell began his career as a lighting designer at the New York-based gas lighting manufactory Archer & Pancoast in the late 1880s. It was there that he future business partner, Victor F. von Lossberg, with whom he would found Edward F. Caldwell and Company in 1894. His pieces were often based on historical models, but Caldwell also excelled in conceiving original designs which he produced to fit his clients’ individual decorative demands.  The quality of his work often rivaled the 18th- and 19th-century prototypes from which he drew, and, particularly in his gilding, Caldwell’s techniques were far superior to those of his contemporaries. Caldwell’s work appeared in prominent buildings such as the White House and the Waldorf Astoria, and in homes of affluent New Yorkers including Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie.  Electric fixtures were relatively new and many that did exist were not particularly suitable for rooms decorated with antiques. “[Caldwell’s] rich and conservative clientele preferred traditional interiors, so Caldwell based his lighting fixtures predominantly on historical styles, often using photographs of objects in European palaces as models, or relying on eighteenth century pattern books.” The design for the present chandeliers was undoubtedly taken from a model made by Francis Garthorne (fl. 1690-1713) for the King’s Presence Chamber at Hampton Court (circa 1690), the former royal residence, now part of the Royal Collection. Garthorne was a prominent English silversmith working in the Huguenot style and was frequently employed by William and Mary, as in the case of the Hampton Court Chandelier. The four shell-topped cartouches that surmount the top of both the original and the Caldwell chandeliers contain the symbols of a rose, a fleur-de-lys, a thistle and a harp. These represent England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, respectively, and are the symbols adorning, among other objects, the Hampton House Palace gates.  A photograph of an eighteen-light Caldwell chandelier closely related to the present pair, though with different crests in the four cartouches topping the fixture, can be found in the Cooper Hewitt Museum Library’s Edward F. Caldwell Lighting Collection (numbered “a80742″).