A wheel chandelier is a lighting installment, in the form of a chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the form of a spoked wheel. The oldest and most important examples derive from the Romanesque period
Wheel chandeliers were made for the practical purpose of lighting the great churches and other public areas, but in religion they also had symbolic significance, depicting the Garden of Eden or the Kingdom of God. The wheel, its gates, and its towers, which are usually decorated with Prophets and Apostles or inscribed with their names, symbolise the city walls of the New Jerusalem. The buttresses, towers, and candles number twelve or a multiple of twelve, after the numerology of the Book of Revelation. This symbolism is first found on two wheel chandeliers of the Hildesheim Cathedral. The great wheel chandelier of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was an inspiration.
In Germany there are four great Romanesque wheel chandeliers. The fact that they are made from fire-gilt copper and not from pure gold has saved them from being melted down. They were decorated with Prophets and angels in silver and with precious gemstones, but for the most part these have been lost.
In the Minster Church of St. Alexander in Einbeck, there is a later gothic wheel chandelier of painted brass with a diameter of c. 3.5 metres. The inscription on its bracket dates it to 1420. It was presumably gifted by Degenhard Ree, a Canon of the collegiate church. The composition ought to go back to a lost moder in Pöhlde Cloister.
Another Gothic example is found in:
In some neo-Romanesque churches there are large wheel chandeliers too. Some of these were electric even when they were first installed Some examples:
There are also contemporary wheel chandeliers, which continue this tradition:
Another type is wagon wheel chandelier. As name suggest it is usually made from old wagon wheels. As opposite to most of the wheel chandeliers, wagon wheel chandeliers were usually created as a cheap way to lighten the common spaces of large houses, businesses and public halls. Most of them were made from wood reinforced with steel.
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