Origin, Types, and Functioning of Chandeliers with Serpent Arms: From the Netherlands to Lithuania

Summary

Chandeliers with serpent arms held at the National Museum of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Art Museum are among the earliest found in Lithuania. Previous efforts to find chandeliers of similar décor in Latvia or Poland while collecting material on lighting fixtures in Lithuania and the neighbouring countries were unsuccessful. Due to that reason, it was thought that the spread of these chandeliers of extraordinary décor was limited to the territory of Lithuania. A closer and more thorough look into collections of Western European museums has revealed that the motif of an elegantly coiled snake on chandelier arms should be related to Hans Rogiers, a founder who worked in Amsterdam in 1598–1638.

In the article, the origin of chandeliers with serpent arms in Western Europe and the ways they could have possibly reached Lithuania are traced back for the first time. Specimens that survived or did not survive in Lithuania, their development and problems of dating are analysed. Their functioning space is explored and the subject of their symbolism is addressed. The article aims to present and evaluate the surviving chandeliers with serpent arms in Lithuania. In the research, instruments of formal, comparative, iconographic, and reconstructive analysis were used.

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