Founded in 1764 by Royal consent, the firm of Baccarat became known as the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat during the 19th century.
François-Eugène de Fontenay (who joined the company in 1841) discovered that by the addition of nickel oxide in the manufacturing process, a perfectly clear product, "crystal glass", free of discolouration and imitating precious rock crystal, was produced. The Baccarat company was awarded a Gold Medal at the French Expositions des Produits de l'Industrie in 1844.
With the continuing improvement in their manufacturing standards, the quality of Baccarat's 'crystal glass' improved and reached the highest level by the end of the century, competing successfully with the Bohemian glass industry. Baccarat 'crystal glass' is highly regarded, not only for its unusual clarity, but also for its great solidity and weight.
The present chandelier is an unusual and rare model by Baccarat. The distinctive winged putti, which hold aloft torches, were first used by Baccarat on a pair of large blue and white crystal basins shown at the 1878 Paris Exposition universelle (see D. Sautot & B. d'Antras, Baccarat, Paris, 1998, p.p 88-89).