The First Day of an 1862 Christmas…

On the first day of Christmas the 1862 Committee gave to me… a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Ferdinand Barbedienne, Candelabra, Paris, 1862, gilt bronze, Victoria and Albert Museum, 8030-1862 © V&A, 2013

Ferdinand Barbedienne, Candelabra, Paris, 1862, gilt bronze, Victoria and Albert Museum, 8030-1862 © V&A, 2013

Vast.  Bombastic.  Opulent.  Extravagant.  Luxurious.  These are perhaps some of the best words to describe many of the objects that were displayed at the 1862 International Exhibition.  Intended as a celebration of the best in contemporary design, the exhibition was full of over-sized ceramics, metalware and furniture – not to mention machines, inventions and decorative majolica fountains!  This gilt bronze candelabra, standing 76.60 cm high and spanning 36.50 cm wide is a perfect example of these extravagances.  Fluttering at the top of this metal tree is (admittedly not a partridge) a phoenix rising from the ashes – the pinnacle of celebrations about revival and renewal.  Design was on its way up in 1862.

© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2013

 

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