Murano Glass Chandeliers have long and rich history dating back to the 17th century. At the time traditional lighting in wealthy European residences and public spaces was based on heavy iron-and-wood chandeliers of basic shapes. With advances in the glass-making process Bohemian masters came up with crystal, glass which was made with potash and chalk and could be cut and shaped into multifaceted forms.
This led to the development of Bohemian Glass chandeliers, which were distinguished by their special brilliance as light from the candles reflected on the many surfaces of the cut glass elements. The elegance of these chandeliers was in high demand in Europe and challenged the status of Venetian Glass as predominant form of art glass décor in Europe and beyond.
To remain competitive Venetians developed a new type of a chandelier, a Murano Glass Chandelier called "ciocca", which means a "bunch" in Italian. This name comes from the unique design of this Venetian chandelier, which featured many elegant hand-shaped floral elements made from blown glass, which were inserted into the central metal base and made an impression of an elaborate bunch of flowers, or a bouquet.
The impression was made even grander by the unexpected use of rich colors, with polychrome flowers, green leaves, gold branches, and colorful fruits. And yet these chandeliers made an impression of lightness, almost floating in the air, making them perfect for trendy baroque interiors of the 18th century.
The first well-known Murano Glass Chandelier of this kind was created for the Danish King Frederick IV who traveled to Murano island in 1709 to pick it up. After this royal example, many local and foreign nobles and merchants desired to have a Murano chandelier of their own. The first master to set up a workshop specifically dedicated to chandelier-making on Murano was Giuseppe Briati. He had prior experience working in a Bohemian glass workshop, and to compete with popular Bohemian designs he came up with a concept of modular chandelier.
The chandelier had base metal parts that were assembled in a tubular design and formed the center of the chandelier structure. These were covered with light blown glass elements. The metal parts were arranged in tiers and each tier had holes, where glass leaves, flowers, and branches were inserted one by one, creating a symmetrical chandelier in a form of a bouquet.
This chandelier pioneered by Briati has since been named Rezzonico, after the name of the famous Venetian family which employed Briati's workshop to create a grand chandelier for the entrance hall of their Grand Canal palazzo. This palazzo still stands in Venice today and is now known as museum of the 18th century Venice Ca' Rezzonico. The Briati Rezzonico chandelier still hangs at the entrance, making a magical impression on visitors and glorifying the art of Murano Glass.