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Today one may obtain beautiful examples closely following the best models of the eighteenth century when in France their design reached its pinnacle of excellence. The word girandole, which comes from the Italian, aptly describes these ornamental candelabra, for it means the clustered effect of descending sky rockets or the curving spray of fountain water.
Girandoles have not the simplicity of the practical English candelabra. Their forte has been that of an exceptional form of light-holder for use where the note of lux ury and distinction was desired. In formal eighteenth century English and French interiors they still retain all their former suggestion and in other less staid interiors they provide a successful addition because of their innate beauty.
A girandole is a pyramid-shaped candelabra with from two to six candles. The framework of metal may be had in many finishes, dull silver, bronze, gilt or polychrome. Girandoles may also be found in which the supports are of crystal, as in the more stately Colonial houses. In New England the white crystals were in fashion.
In another form, now being reproduced, the girandole has a round metal stand and a support turned like the base of a metal candlestick. From this a number of slender, curving branches, to which the candle sockets are attached, form a graceful pyramid shape. Partly concealing the metal supports are the crystal pendants in all shapes and sizes, qnd strings of round and square-cut crystals. Interspersed are cut crystal drops of ruby or jade green or yellow.
Girandoles, in pairs, were generally placed on the mantel of the dining room or drawing room, or on the dining table for formal feasts. In the modern living room they enliven the fireplace mantel. Or as an ornament to the music room or library, they easily make a place for themselves. Useful also are they on a dressing table in a bedroom or on a console table in the foyer-in fact, these handsome candle stands, naturalized here for nearly two centuries, are at home almost anywhere.
All or certainly most of the girandoles used in this country in Colonial times were imported from France or England. Some of the old forms were made as wall fixtures with a mirror back, although this type is very rare. Antique girandoles are prizes when found, for, because they were used in Colonial and much later days only by the most prosperous their original number was limited.
For use on the dining table, girandoles in silver are appropriate. So various are their designs today that one may find a girandole to suit any particular interior. Those en tirely of crystal, of course, suit the Georgian or Colonial, and those in silver, bronze and gilt fit the French interiors. Polychrome metal girandoles with more or less use of color in the lustres and chains of crystal meet the decorative requirements of Italian settings.