December 15, 2014

Baccarat - a French institution

Baccarat - that say it all, at least if you've lived in France for a while! I am talking about the manufacturer of fine crystal glassware located in Baccarat, France.

It all started when in 1734 King Louis XV of France gave permission to found a glassworks in the Lorraine region to Prince Bishop Cardinal Louis-Joseph de Laval-Montmorency (1710-1802). Production consisted of window panes, mirrors and stemware until 1816 when the first crystal oven went into operation. By that time over 3000 workers were employed at the site. Baccarat received its first royal commission in 1823.

This began a lengthy line of commissions for royalty and heads of state throughout the world. In 1855 Baccarat won its first gold medal at the Worlds Fair in Paris. Baccarat began marking its work with a registered mark in 1860. The mark was a label affixed to the bottom of the work. After the second World War Baccarat built a worldwide reputation for making quality stemware, chandeliers, barware, and perfume bottles.

To mark Baccarat’s 250th anniversary, the Petit Palais (built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900) hosted a remarkable selection of over 500 pieces, some of which I wouldn't mind having in my dining room, I admit.

The most impressive piece was a table featuring some commissioned pieces by royal families underscoring Baccarat’s triumphal contribution to living as one of the fine arts.

The grand finale were the dazzlingly series of majestic chandeliers hung in the Petit Palais’s Galerie d’Honneur, the most monumental of them gleaming with 250 lights. And I am wondering in my mind, where I would find the space in my apartment to hang that one up?

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