The World’s Most Expensive Chandelier: Brighton Pavilion
Brighton Pavilion was built for King George IV in 1815. Intended as his summer retreat, the palace was designed in the Regency style with Indo-Islamic and Chinese influences by architect John Nash. In the Banqueting Room, clutched in spectacular oriental dragons’ claws, is the world’s most expensive chandelier.
When it was designed, Brighton Pavilion was at the cutting edge of daring, imaginative interior design. Today, the palace remains an astonishing and inspirational building. This article discusses Brighton Pavilions rich architectural history, the story of the ‘stupendous chandelier’, and how this extraordinary place can inspire modern interiors.
The Royal Pavilion: A Postmodern Masterpiece of the Regency Period
Erected as the summer residence for King George IV between 1815 and 1822, the Brighton Pavilion incorporated inspiration from numerous oriental styles, including Moorish, Chinese and Tartar, with some Gothic influences thrown in for good measure. The eclecticism of the palace was truly ahead of its time, making John Nash’s Pavilion somewhat of a precursor to postmodern architecture.
Whereas the outside of the palace leans more towards the architect’s Indo-Islamic influences, the interiors are influenced by Chinese culture. Incorporating Chinese sensibilities with Neoclassical and Gothic detailing, the palace’s sumptuous wallpapers, expensive chandeliers and textiles were selected by interior designer Frederick Crace.
The aesthetic eclecticism of the Pavilion is best understood as the personal expression of its eccentric and rebellious commissioner. King George IV was certainly the most prolific patron of the arts since King Charles I, and the King was a pioneer of style and taste during the fashion-conscious Georgian period.
The World’s Most Expensive Chandelier: The Stupendous Chandelier
Within the one of main rooms of the exotic palace hangs a number of magnificent chandeliers. On entering the Banqueting Room, your eyes are immediately drawn into the centre of the domed ceiling, which depicts the eastern sky at night. Against this majestic scene is the largest, most decadent chandelier. The Bishop John George described how “a gigantic palm rears its broad and luxuriant head…[and] Beneath the resplendent waving leaves floats an immense fiery dragon, carrying in its claws the stupendous chandelier.”
This ‘stupendous chandelier’ was designed by the Robert Jones and fabricated by London design company Bailey & Saunders. Costing £5,600 (approximately half a million euros in today’s currency), the chandelier comprises gold chain with a belt of diamonds, rubies, pearls and garnets, around which six winged dragons suspend a multitude of tassels and crystals in their claws. This spectacular light fitting is arguably the most expensive chandelier in the world, with antiques experts now classifying the chandelier as priceless.
Chandeliers by Lladro: A Touch of the Magic of the Royal Pavilion for the Contemporary Interior
A visit to the Brighton Pavilion to view the world’s most expensive chandelier is thoroughly inspirational for any interior design enthusiast. With artistry and imagination, the interior’s joyful abandon and eclecticism can be translated beautifully for the contemporary moment.
For instance, by swapping traditional crystal for fine porcelain, design firm Lladró invoke all of the interest and glamour of the Banqueting Room’s ‘stupendous chandelier’ for the modern day. Teamed with pieces from their oriental high porcelain collection, these opulent, daring decorations push aesthetic boundaries with all the glamour, exoticism and vivicity of George IV’s summer palace.