Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Prismatic Morning at Darlington House

This morning I walked through the dining room at Darlington House and nearly tripped over two rays of refracted color on the floor.

No, Dear Reader, a little elf hadn't painted them on the carpet during the night.

The source of the rays was sunlight refracted by crystal prisms hanging on a pair of antique gilt-bronze girandoles standing on either end of the mantel in the room.  We bought our girandoles many years ago from Charles & Rebekah Clark, dealers of American classical furniture, lighting, and decorative arts.  The Clarks feature numerous examples of similar girandoles on their website.

Before owning girandoles, I had always assumed that the purpose of their crystals—other  than being decorative—was to reflect candlelight at night.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they also throw refracted rays of color when hit by sunlight during the day.

There were splashes of color scattered all about our dining room this morning.  They are one of the pleasures at Darlington House when the sun travels far enough south during the late autumn and into the winter months such that its light streams through the front windows and creates a play of rays through the girandoles' crystals.

But, like all rays, they are ephemeral and momentary, and just as quickly as they form, they vanish!


  1. What an elegant post! Love the carpeting (I have it in my bedroom) and stool and tacks.

  2. In a c.1920's house I once rented, the whole front (living room, entry, and dining room) was glazed with small panes of beveled glass. When the sun shone in the effect was intense.

    Another memory sparked by your photo essay: When I returned to the razed site of the Fair Haven house I recently wrote about, I found a very old ruby-glass crystal prism that had presumably come from an elaborate girandole or similar object.
    --Road to Parnassus

  3. Reggie,

    What a lovely and colorful surprise to discover. The girandoles are gorgeous.


    Art by Karena

  4. Fabulous -reminds me of the movie Pollyanna when she hung prisms in the windows.

  5. Reggie, Lovely post. I would love to see a photograph of the girandoles.

  6. What a happy photograph, that first one! The light from prisms is so fleeting and yet so magical. Beautiful.

  7. So beautiful. I much prefer old crystal to new. Antique crystal has rich colors without that oil-slick appearance that new crystal often has.

  8. How could I have lived until now, not knowing that those beautiful crystal clad candle sticks had their own name! I shall add 'girandole' to the many things that I have learnt from Reggie thus far.

  9. This happened to me; a big bright prism cast across my yoga matt when I was painting it. I was the wildest thing! I was so inspired.


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