Continuing the series:
A Century of Lighting Styles – Introduction
A Century of Lighting Styles – Victorian, Part 1
A Century of Lighting Styles – Victorian, Part 2
Each period style embodies romantic notions of its era. In decor or in architecture, pretty much anything that is based on a European pre-medieval or post-Renaissance historical style can be viewed through the Classical Revival lens. It’s interesting to note that “romance” as a word has its roots in the “Romance languages” – languages that evolved from the Latin of ancient Rome. Our Classical roots run almost inexhaustibly deep…
a growing nation seeks to capture an aura of permanence and power
In the late 19th century, architects trained at Paris’ Ecole de Beaux Arts provided Western nations with buildings rooted in Classical Greek, Roman and Renaissance architecture. Gone were the colorful, artful, picturesque, asymmetrical designs of Queen Victoria’s reign, replaced by columns, capitals, coffers, and pediments (introduced in The White City – the great 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago).
As electricity became more commonplace in the early 20th century, Classical Revival lighting evolved from familiar fixture types simply embellished with Classical motifs (such as egg & dart, ribbon & bay, acanthus leaf, and Greek key) to wholly new forms such as multi-pendant showers, large semi-indirect bowl fixtures and elaborate cast exterior wall brackets.
A note: The Classical era has seen numerous and continuous revivals, starting with the Renaissance. The Classical Revival style, which was a late-19th and early-20th century trend, is often confused with the Neoclassical style of the late 1700s and early 1800s – as in Jefferson’s Monticello and Latrobe’s U.S. Capitol. Classical Revival is a bit like the grandchild of Neoclassical.
Classical Revival homes often feature large columns, substantial balustrades, and heavy pedimented gables. They can be distinguished from their closely related (and more delicately detailed) Colonial Revival cousins by a strong architectural presence and a solid, weighty appearance. (Rejuvenation archives)
Classical Revival interiors – like the exteriors – are very architectural and frequently include Classical columns, heavy, refined woodwork, and a strong emphasis on substantial moldings. The boldly solid fixtures carry their weight – visually and physically – in balance with the other interior elements. (c1912, Rejuvenation archives)
LIGHTING: Sears & Montgomery Ward
Drawn from Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs of the 1910s, this array of Classical Revival fixtures gives a good sense of what the average homeowner would have access to – nice stuff. Heavy chain, urns, garlands, bowls and globe shades speak of tradition and convey power. (Rejuvenation archives)
LIGHTING: Higher-End Manufacturers
On the higher end, the forms were quite similar, but the execution of the details went much further in the weight and quality of the castings, the academic exploration of Classical forms, and refinement of the designs and finishes – all to project a formal dignity and authority. (Rejuvenation archives)
COMING NEXT… Part 2: CLASSICAL REVIVAL LIGHTING SUB-STYLES