More light on the subject......
Posted by Roger V on July 31, 1998 at 23:32:12:
In response to More on Candlelight--Persuasion, etc., written by Anna P on July 31, 1998 at 11:30:36
In the movie adaptation of Persuasion with Amanda Root, the lighting at night was done far more realistically than most other films.
It created such a real feel and so much atmosphere. Didn't it make the world then seem smaller? And it enhanced how this group of characters relied on one another's company for sustenance.
Candlelight was expensive to produce, I take it.
I agree that the lighting in 'Persuasion' was expertly done, and was very effective towards the very end, when Anne, who has appeared VERY plain and rather unfashionable throughout most of the movie practically "sparkles" in the candle light after she and the good Captain have come to an understanding and he is speaking to her father.
You are right that candles were expensive, and wax candles made of bee's wax were the most expensive of all. Real bee's wax candles sometimes also put out a slightly sweet odor (honey). Far more common were tallow candles, and even they were too expensive for some people. Tallow is a waxlike substance derived from animal fat, and I don't even want to THINK what tallow rendered from mutton fat must have smelled like!
A large ballroom or assembly room would have had several chandliers, each of which might carry dozens of candles. Additionally, there would have been candles in wall sconces and on gaming tables, though they all would have been placed where there was minimal danger of being knocked over or of setting someone's dress on fire. It still wouldn't be up to modern standards, but all those candles would have created considerable light, especially where several were concentrated together. Also, remember that even today, most dance floors are not brightly lit.
Candles had an unfortunate tendency to drip on the dancers below, and one wonders how many gowns were ruined in this way. For an event that lasted any time, servants must have been constantly changing candles, the break in dancing for dinner possibly being a good time to replace candles in the ballroom.
All this open flame produced considerable heat, so unless it was dead winter, ballrooms didn't need to be heated, and it was likely that windows and doors would have been open much of the time. Certainly fires and other accidents happened, but what's amazing to me is that MORE didn't happen!
- mirrors would have enhanced the lighting also Gayle 20:18:32 8/01/98 (0)
- Not if Mr. Woodhouse had anything to say about it! ;-) The Mysterious H.C. 13:00:49 8/01/98 (4)
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