Blades is first recorded in 1783, trading from premises at 5 Ludgate Hill, where he was to continue in business until his death in 1829 (cf. Howard Coutts, `London Cut Glass, The Work of John Blades and Messrs. Jones', Antique Collecting. vol. 22, No. 2, June 1987, pp. 22-24). Already by 1789 he had been appointed glass-maker to George III, in succession to Lazarus Jacobs, as indicated by a notice in The Gentleman's Magazine which on April 13 that year announced the marriage of `Mr John Blades of Ludgate Hill, cut glass manufacturer to his Majesty, to Miss Hannah Hobson of Thomas Street, Southwark'. In 1797 Blades received a commission for two chandeliers for the Court Room of the Drapers' Company. The chandeliers survive and confirm Blades' reputation as a pioneer, anticipating the `fountain' type of chandelier later introduced by the Prince of Wales at Carlton House in the early 1800s. Among other English clients, Blades worked for the Marquis of Westminster, for whom he produced a Gothic style lantern for Eaton Hall, Cheshire. He also attracted commissions from abroad and at the same time supplied the King and government with articles intended for export for diplomatic gifts. An article published in Ackermann's Repository in 1823 contains descriptions of several such commissions, including a consignment of sherbert services, cut-glass tables, and a pair of decorative hookah pipes sent to the Pasha of Egypt; a service of candelabra and lustres, presented to the Sultan of Turkey by George III in 1800; a large group of `lustres, candelabra, services, etc.' dispatched to the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1812; another sent to Homerjee Bomanjee of Bombay in 1815; a dessert service exported to Russia for use by the Tzar; a set of lustres sent to Baron Josephus Ferdinandes Banderia in Portugal in 1815; a group of `candelabra of uncommon magnitude' ordered for the Shah of Persia; and most remarkable of all, a green glass tomb modelled on the tomb of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey, which was dispatched to the Nabob of Oudh in 1795.
The article in Ackermann's Repository was illustrated with a view of Blades' London showrooms (see illustration), which were among the most celebrated in the capital, filled to capacity with every type of glass object including an array of chandeliers very similar to the example here. The showrooms had recently been remodelled by the architect John Buonarotti Papworth, who also worked with Blades as a glass designer. Starting in around 1816, Papworth produced designs for a wide range of articles, including vases, lanterns, and dessert services, but he was especially renowned for large scale candelabra.
A closely related chandelier with provenance from Bishop's Court sold Sotheby's London `Important English Furniture', 22 November 2006, 135.
A group of related Regency chandeliers is illustrated in Martin Mortimer, The English Glass Chandelier, 2000, pp. 127-138 and colour p. 21, colour pl. 11.
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