Smallpox was once a highly infectious and deadly disease that caused widespread devastation and fear around the world. Fortunately, it has now been eradicated. However, the legacy of smallpox lives on in an unexpected form – the smallpox chandelier. These exquisite, ornate ceiling fixtures have a fascinating history that is worth exploring.
What are Smallpox Chandeliers?
Smallpox chandeliers are a type of decorative ceiling fixture that were once commonly found in homes and public buildings in Europe and North America. They typically feature a central bowl or globe that is suspended by chains or rods and adorned with curving arms that hold candles or electric bulbs. The distinctive feature of smallpox chandeliers is the glass globes that cover each bulb or candle. These globes are engraved with intricate patterns that resemble the scars left behind by smallpox.
The History of Smallpox Chandeliers
The smallpox chandelier has its roots in the 18th century, when smallpox was a major health threat in Europe and North America. In many communities, families who had survived smallpox would commission glassblowers to make memorial globes that featured the distinctive scars left by the disease. These globes would be hung in the family home as a reminder of the family’s good fortune in surviving the disease.
Over time, glassblowers began to create chandeliers that featured smallpox globes as a decorative element. These chandeliers were highly prized as symbols of wealth and status, and they were often found in the homes of aristocrats and wealthy merchants. The popularity of smallpox chandeliers continued to grow throughout the 19th century, as smallpox vaccines were developed and the disease became less of a public health threat.
The Artistry of Smallpox Chandeliers
Smallpox chandeliers are exquisite works of art, reflecting both the technical skills of the glassblowers who created them and the aesthetic values of the time period in which they were made. The globes are carefully engraved with delicate patterns that mimic the scars left by smallpox, and the curving arms and chains that hold the globes in place are often adorned with intricate decorations like flowers, leaves, and birds.
One of the most interesting aspects of smallpox chandeliers is the way they reflect the changing styles and tastes of the time periods in which they were made. Early smallpox chandeliers were often quite ornate and fussy, designed to display the wealth and status of the owner. However, as the 19th century progressed, the style of smallpox chandeliers became more streamlined and understated, reflecting a growing appreciation for simplicity and elegance.