Christie’s Lighting from the 18th to the 21st Century Sale

Christie’s is currently presenting Let There Be Light (24 June – 14 July), an online themed sale dedicated to the history of lighting, demonstrating the breadth, richness and variety of styles through outstanding examples of lighting.

These include candlesticks, candelabra, chandeliers, wall lights, table and standing lamps, from the 18th to the 21st Century.

The sale comprises 134 lots and showcases how precious and finely crafted examples of lighting from the 18th and 19th Century can sit alongside modern light fixtures in today’s interiors. Via a juxtaposition of lighting styles comes the creation of interiors schemes combining layers of history with modernity, which in turn showcase the character and taste of the modern-day collector.

Candlesticks and candelabra, both functional and decorative, were traditionally positioned throughout the house, especially before the invention of electricity. Lot 4, A pair of Louis XV Ormolu Candlesticks, mid-18th Century, are typical of the period with scrolling and swirls in an anti-classical style, (estimate £2,000-3,000). Candlesticks were variably decorated depending on where they were placed: in important rooms, the most precious examples were often gilt and decorated with crystal or cut-glass; in dining rooms, silver examples appear, often to match the cutlery.

Lot 47, The Painted Hall Candelabra, The Old Royal Navy College, Greenwich. A Pair of George VI Silver, Five-Light Candelabra, London, 1938 (estimate £10,000-15,000). Lot 72, A Pair of Louis Philippe Ormolu-Six-Light Candelabra, circa 1840, (estimate £18,000-25,000).

Amjad Rauf, Head of Sale, International Head of Masterpiece and Private Sales comments, “Influential interior decorators and designers focus on lighting as a priority from the beginning of a project to fruition: it is at the heart of the planning process not only of the architectural shell but the fully developed interior design scheme. Lighting significantly influences the overall atmosphere of a home, as well as the presence and visibility of all interiors components and works of art”.

Amjad continues, “We are also delighted to be working with Martin Brudnezki as a
Tastemaker on this sale. Martin Brudnezki Design Studio is an internationally acclaimed interior architecture and design studio based in London and New York. MBDS expertise in lighting residential properties globally is recognised as second to none with a large team dedicated solely to the art of lighting”.

Lighting has been essential since the earliest civilisations. Elements of light have been key in the study of the history of Interior Decoration and Design: the homes of the Egyptians, Greek and Romans already contained a form of the lamp, and Roman Emperors were often depicted flanked by an oil-lamp. More is known of the great luminary schemes at the Royal Courts of Europe in the 17th and 18th Century. Louis XIV’s Chateau de Versailles is particularly noteworthy as the abundant and luxurious lighting features were the main focus of the palace, which demonstrated the wisdom and power of the King.

The monumental candelabra, crystal and bronze chandeliers in the Galerie des Glaces in Versailles are still the main focal point in one of the most recognisable rooms in the world. Commonly seen in Neo-Classical palaces and the courts of Europe, Lot 121, a North German Ormolu and Cut-Glass, Twelve-Light Chandelier in the Manner of Werner & Mieth, Berlin, early 19th Century, (estimate £18,000-25,000). Lot 120, a Monumental North European Ormolu Twelve-Light Chandelier in the manner of Karl Rossi, St. Petersburg, 20th Century, (estimate £18,000-25,000).

The invention of electricity in the late 19th Century allowed for new methods of lighting. Table lamps were developed in a variety of shapes and styles, occasionally incorporating an earlier artefact such as a vase or column.

Lot 1, A Pair of Moulded Cobalt-Blue Glass Lamps, Modern, (estimate £2,000-3,000). Lot 45, a Pair of George III Ormolu-Mounted Blue-John Cassolettes by Matthew Boulton, circa 1765-70, (estimate £12,000-18,000).

Let There Be Light also includes an eclectic variety of modern table lamps including examples in brass, painted wood and plaster, porcelain and glass. The recurrent shapes – ovoid, baluster, vase and column – have classical connotations but often with a modern twist giving them a fresh, contemporary feel. Lot 32, a Pair of Silvered and Gilt-Metal ‘Sputnik’ lamps, second half 20th Century, (estimate £1,500-2,500).

Let There Be Light includes contemporary lots consigned by some of the most prominent and renowned British decorators and designers including Vaughan, Robert Kime, Jamb, Soane and Colefax & Fowler.



Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had auction sales in the first half of 2019 that totalled £2.2 billion / $2.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectables, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.