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Crystal, Candles & Chandeliers: A Magical Night at Schloss Eggenberg

Published on June 15th, 2017 in Sights

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel back in time and stroll through a grand 17th - century castle? What if you could do it at night, and without the noise and commotion of other tourists?

 

The lucky members of Light and Glass – an organization that promotes research, conservation and education about chandeliers, lighting and glass – were recently treated to just such an experience, when their annual conference was held at the incredibly beautiful Schloss Eggenberg residence in Graz, Austria.

 

Schloss Eggenberg, Graz, Austria. (Photo Credit)

 

Built in the 17th century for imperial governor Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg (1568-1634) and currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Schloss Eggenberg residence is considered a large-scale work of art, with interior rooms from the Baroque and Rococo periods that have remained largely unchanged since the 18th century.  

 

Schloss Eggenberg, Graz, Austria. (Photo by author)

 

Of particular note are the spectacular crystal chandeliers that are found throughout the palace. At the time they were installed, chandeliers were among the most expensive and luxurious items for furnishing interiors, so they were also seen as symbols of wealth, social status and power – all of which governor von Eggenberg apparently had plenty, judging from the sheer number of these amazing light fixtures in nearly every room.

 

 

Originally lit with candles, most historic palaces around Europe have been converted to use electricity in modern times. However, Schloss Eggenberg remains one of the only residences in Europe where the chandeliers and sconces are still lit with candles. Over 600 candles are needed to light all the fixtures throughout the residence! 

 

Planetary room, Schloss Eggenberg, in daylight. (Photo credit)

 

Planetary room, Schloss Eggenberg, lit with candlelight. (Photo credit)

 

Walking through these grand staterooms by candlelight is truly a magical experience. The warm glow of the candles makes an evocative and romantic ambience full of shadows and hidden spaces. Surfaces that in daylight are often overlooked — like the mirrors and marble floors — transform into dynamic reflective surfaces that dance and sparkle in the low flickering light.

 

Schloss Eggenberg (Photo credit)

 

Schloss Eggenberg (Photo credit)

 

Each year, the Light and Glass annual meeting gather scholars, curators, conservators, antique dealers and engineers specializing in glass, chandeliers and lighting to discuss research and new developments within the field. Participation in the conferences, which are held in a different European city each year, is open both to members and the public. The 2018 conference will be held at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague – another worthwhile destination – so be sure to contact Light and Glass for more information if you are interested in attending!

 

Amy Hughes

Ph.D. Candidate

Fulbright Alumna and Visiting Research Fellow,

Ústav dějin umění, Akademie věd České republiky, v. v. i

Art and Design History and Visual Culture Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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