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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Hanging Lanterns

IN spite of the trend toward wall lights and floor and table lamps, the pendent lantern holds its own as a useful decorative aid to the illumination of the home. And in a lesser degree the chandelier, which, in many rooms, is not appropriate, is still found to be indispensable in some period interiors. Hanging lights are much too useful and, when well designed, too beautiful to be easily discarded. Although the vogue for Spanish and Italian architecture and furnishings has rightly fostered the use of picturesque lanterns from these Latin countries, there is, for entrance hall or foyer, a growing demand for the Colonial type of pendent lighting fixture. Designers knowing this, are today seizing eagerly on fine examples of hanging lanterns in brass and wrought iron and glass, whether found in old houses or museums, and are cleverly reproducing them, as was recently done with a handsome example in etched glass in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum.

The Colonial period lanterns and those of the early days of the Republic afford a wide variety of design, because of the many national types of decoration found in eighteenth-century America. Nothing so betrays the fact that the United States has always felt and responded to varied national influences as a study of the design of the period. In the manner of hanging lanterns one finds the rounded, or bulbous, forms in the metal work of the Dutch oŁ New York, the lighter French type of wrought-iron work of Louisiana and the franker use of iron in the Spanish lantern of the Southwest, with its heritage of strange Moorish art. These important influences are often overlooked when considering Colonial craftwork, because of the greater preponderance of the English fashions in New England and the Southern States.

So, in selecting a Colonial hall lantern, one may pick from examples suggestive of all these varied types. For today they are reproduced with intelligent understanding of the varied national strains composing what we know as "Colonial." With this wide variety, the appropriateness of the design of the hall lantern to its surroundings is obviously as important as its excellence. One must not forget that the hall is the first view of the interior of a home that the visitor receives and that its general effect is therefore of high importance.

For the Tudor house, a style of architecture which is growing in popularity, there are the hanging lights of electric candles placed on the edge of a simple circle of wrought iron. The modern lights simulate closely the older tallow ones, and the tone of the wrought iron blends well with the dark woodwork of the furniture or panel walls, which are part of the atmosphere of this period.

But by far the most used kinds of hall lanterns are the later Georgian, with their air of chaste simplicity and precise design. These are appropriate not only with furni ture of a definite period but in the informally arranged hallway. Here, too, there is a wide range of authentic styles for the householder, who may choose a lantern in accord with a mahogany hand rail on the stairs or an early Duncan Phyfe side table.

In furnishing a new house the lighting fixtures are often not considered until the last moment, and after other details of the home, not quite so important, have been finished. But it is being more widely recognized than heretofore that lights, and especially hanging lights, because of their conspicuousness in any room, should be given not only early consideration, but thoughtful attention as to their quality and appropriateness. Experts on lighting fixtures say that 3 per cent of the entire building budget is not too much to lay aside for the necessary and proper wall and hanging lights.

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