Object Details




Gérard-Jean Galle (French, 1788 - 1846)




about 1818 - 1819


Gilt bronze; enameled metal; glass


129.5 x 96.5 cm (51 x 38 in.)

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A hot air balloon inspired the design of this fanciful chandelier with a blue lacquered globe strewn with gold stars above a glass bowl. The twelve signs of the zodiac wrap around the globe on a gilt bronze band. The maker, Gérard-Jean Galle, fitted the bowl with a plug and explained that it could hold water and small goldfish, "whose continuous movement amuses the eye most agreeably." When he exhibited the chandelier in 1819, he described it as a lustre à poisson (fish chandelier).

Galle tried to sell this chandelier along with other merchandise to the French King Louis XVIII in 1820. He desperately pleaded that these goods caused "the ruin of my factory and family" and promised that his stock was modestly priced, but the government rejected his offer. Conscious of popular criticism of governmental luxury, the bureaucrats argued that they could not purchase objects that were neither "advantageous nor useful."


The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 179.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 124-25, no. 98.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 233.

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