Three-light Argand Chandelier, about 1815–20
Johnston Brookes & Co., London
Gilt and patinated bronze, with glass shades, blown, frosted, and wheel-cut
33 1/4 in. high, 20 in. diameter
Signed and inscribed (on the unseen back of one of the gilt mounts): Published / by / Johnston, Brookes, / & / Hector & Davidson. / April 20th / 1822 / S. 3., LT [The bottom line is short for “small 3 light.]
Original matched pairs of Argand chandeliers from the period around 1815-25 are extremely rare. This example, one of a pair (sold separately), is of unusually fine quality, with good castings of a variety of Neo-classical motifs, including masks, lions’ heads, garlands, Prince-of-Wales feathers, acanthus leaves, and other foliage. They are almost identical to a single four-light chandelier supplied by Hancock and Rixon, Cockspur Street, Charing Cross, London, to The Reverend Bowyer Adderley (1787-1872), Fillongley Hall, Warwickshire, England, August 15, 1826: “1 Elegant 4 light Bronze Antique lamp with chain & c….#28-7 in,” which is also in the collection of Hirschl & Adler Galleries (FAPG 19760D).
Johnston Brookes & Company was one of the most important manufacturers of lighting of different forms during the Neo-classical period. They first appeared in the London City Directory for the year 1814 as Johnston, Brookes, & Company, “brass founders,” at 32 New Street, Shoe Lane. The same listing appeared in 1820. In 1824 the name was given as Johnston, Brooks & Co. at 32 New Street, Fetter Lane. Apparently Johnston and Brookes split by 1835, for in that year Jonathan Johnston was listed as a “brass founder” at 19 Cursitor Street, and William Brookes and Company was listed as a “brass founder, lamp manufacturer and gas fitter,” still at 32 New Street, Fetter Lane. Brookes’s directory listing remains the same thereafter, and Johnston’s changes in 1843 to “lamp manufacturer and gas fitter,” 9 Cursitor Street, and in 1852 it reads “Johnston Brothers, lamp manufacturers and gas fitters,” 9 Cursitor Street.