candelabrum (kănˌdəläˈbrəm) [key], primarily a support for candles, designed in the form of a turned baluster or a tapered column, also a branched candlestick or a lampstand. Though most used and developed during the Renaissance, the candelabrum originated in Etruria and Rome. Candelabra found in Etruscan and Pompeiian ruins are usually of bronze. From ancient Rome come the tall and monumental candelabra used in temples and public buildings. Of bronze or marble, they had triangular pedestals from which rose columnar shafts, finely sculptured and terminating at the top in a bowl used for holding illuminating oil and incense. With these as inspiration, Italian Renaissance artists produced superb candelabra in rich materials for altars, chapels, and processions. In that period the distinctive form of the candelabrum came also to be a ubiquitous decorative motive, used freely in architectural ornament, tapestry borders, stained-glass windows, and furniture. It was even converted (especially in Lombardy) into a definite architectural element, taking the place of a column or colonnette, as in windows of the Certosa at Pavia.
See F. W. Robins, The Story of the Lamp (and the Candle) (1939).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.