This large and unique lamp represents a lively blending of styles and iconography. The decoration on the backplate consists of paired birds and lions, the latter rendered with stylized manes and beaklike mouths that reflect folk traditions. The two griffins above would seem to have been made by a different artist, as they are stiffer and more awkward in form, with unnaturally elongated bodies. Yet another style is represented by the piece across the front of the candleholders, bearing a lion and lioness. These are depicted in a more naturalistic way than the lions above, and a greater sense of depth is achieved by the way that the leaves curl over the lions' backs. A fourth style is evidenced in the three-dimensional cast figures of a bear, a gorilla, and elephants, which are quite realistic in execution.
The piece gives the impression of having grown organically over time, beginning with the inner frame containing the two birds. While it is rendered in the same style as the upper section with the lions, there is no exact duplication of scrollwork, flowers, or leaves between them. The elephants, bear, and gorilla may have been the original supports, but the lamp seems to have then been placed on a heavy, flat base with dolphin feet. The griffin and candleholder at top appear to be afterthoughts. There is one precedent for this elaborate composition. An openwork wooden Hanukkah lamp made in 1869 by a Galician artist has some of the same features as the Jewish Museum lamp: an upper panel with elaborate vinework, a menorah, and a pair of deer, and a lower panel comprising the front of the bench, which has two birds surrounded by acanthus leaf scrolls.
Several factors point to a date around the turn of the twentieth century. The first is the style of the lion and lioness, which resembles Art Nouveau. In addition, the palm trees on the top were popular on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century silver lamps from eastern Europe representing the Garden of Eden.


  • Title: Hanukkah Lamp
  • Creator: Unknown Artist/Maker
  • Date Created: c. 1900
  • Location: Russia, Asia, Poland, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 29 1/2 × 26 5/8 × 13 7/8 in. (74.9 × 67.6 × 35.3 cm)
  • Type: Ceremonial Art
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Copper alloy: cast and engraved

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