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Bronze Electrolier

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Bookmark: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/189569



Unknown Artist
Primary



Bronze Electrolier

Early 20th century
Bronze, marble, and crystal

()

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: W.57
Deanery.37 (Deanery Number)
Geography:
Classification: Furnishings and Furniture; Lighting Devices
Collection: Deanery Collection
Bryn Mawr College, Wyndham Alumnae House, 1st Floor

One of a pair of bronze electroliers (electric chandeliers) that consist of a flat marble base, figural bronze stems, and glass shades. The main supports are composite creatures that appear to be early-twentieth-century reinterpretations of an ancient sphinx, with their female torso and head, wings of a bird, haunches of a lion, and snake-like tail. They are perched on balls with columnar pedestals and hold vegetal scrolls with entwined snakes. The scrolls twist up into flat plate bases for the glass lampshades.

Each of the round glass shades is etched with three small scenes and a wave decoration that encircles the top and bottom of each vignette. The decoration is reminiscent of ancient Greek vase painting with respect to design, style, and subject matter. Both shades are decorated with the same three scenes. In the first a two-horse chariot is being driven by a man with a spear who, based on the style of his sleeves and pointed hat, appears to be an ancient Persian. The second scene depicts two rearing horses—one with a rider and the other being led. The men are most likely Greek, with their short hair, tunics, and spears. In the third scene two men riding horses toward the left: one appears to be Greek, with tunic, greaves, and plumed helmet; the other is most likely Persian, with his cloak, pants, and pointed cap.

The introduction of electricity to chandeliers produced the term electrolier (electric chandelier). This pair was installed in a stairwell in the Deanery; later they were rewired and attached to marble bases with crystal shades to serve as table lamps in the Deanery’s Dorothy Vernon Room.

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  • bronze - Refers to a broad range of alloys of copper, specifically any non-ferrous alloy of copper, tin, and zinc or other trace metals. Bronze was made before 3,000 BCE -- possibly as early as 10,000 BCE, although its common use in tools and decorative items is dated only in later artifacts. The proportions of copper and tin vary widely, from 70 to 95 percent copper in surviving ancient artifacts. Because of the copper base, bronze may be very malleable and easy to work. By the Middle Ages in Europe, it was recognized that using the metals in certain proportions could yield specific properties. Some modern bronzes contain no tin at all, substituting other metals such as aluminum, manganese, and even zinc. Historically, the term was used interchangeably with "latten." U.S. standard bronze is composed of 90% copper, 7% tin and 3% zinc. Ancient bronze alloys sometimes contained up to 14% tin.
  • electroliers - Chandeliers in which the lights are electric; the term is used especially for such fixtures dating to the early usage of electricity in homes, when distinguishing such chandeliers from earlier gas and candle chandeliers.
  • furnishings - Works that facilitate human activity and to provide for physical needs of people in or around a building generally by offering comfort, convenience, or protection. An example of usage is in distinguishing the architecture of a building from the furnishings that are placed in and around it.
  • glass - An amorphous, inorganic substance made by fusing silica (silicon dioxide) with a basic oxide; generally transparent but often translucent or opaque. Its characteristic properties are its hardness and rigidity at ordinary temperatures, its capacity for plastic working at elevated temperatures, and its resistance to weathering and to most chemicals except hydrofluoric acid. Used for both utilitarian and decorative purposes, it can be formed into various shapes, colored or decorated. Glass originated as a glaze in Mesopotamia in about 3500 BCE and the first objects made wholly of glass date to about 2500 BCE.
  • marble - A metamorphic, hard, dense, crystalline stone primarily composed of calcium carbonate; it is limestone or dolomite that has been metamorphosed with heat and pressure. Pure calcite marble is white, but impurities produce a wide variety of coloring and patterns. It is finely grained and polishes to a smooth, high gloss. It is used primarily for statuary and buildings. Marble has been quarried from sites around the world since at least the 7th century BCE. The term can also refer more broadly to any crystallized carbonate rock, including true marble and certain types of limestone, that will take a polish and can be used for architectural and ornamental purposes.

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • The Deanery Remembered Bryn Mawr College , 5/1/1985 - 5/29/1985

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url=http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/189569 |title=Bronze Electrolier |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=4/11/2021 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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