Hanukkah Lamp

Unknown Artist/Maker1776-80 with later additions

The Jewish Museum, New York

The Jewish Museum, New York

This lamp was made from the ornamental metal plate affixed to the front of a grenadier's helmet, which had a tall conical shape. Grenadiers were trained to throw grenades during combat, and the helmet shield is, in fact, ornamented with flaming grenades, now on the sides of the lamp. Other Hanukkah lamps made of converted helmet plates are known from the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria and date to the eighteenth century. Quite a few were inscribed with the initials of either Frederick II of Prussia or Maria Theresa of Austria, whose countries were engaged in a conflict that culminated in the Seven Years' War of 1756-63.
It is not known why Jews chose to use such helmet plates for lamps. Many have martial imagery such as cannons, standards, drums, and horns, and it is possible that there was some association with the military victory celebrated at Hanukkah. The Dutch helmet plates could have belonged to Jewish soldiers; however, Austrian and German Jews were allowed to serve in the military only beginning in 1788 and 1812, respectively.
On this Hanukkah lamp, elements of the helmet plate were cut out to form the back-plate and the drip pan. The row of sheet-metal oil containers was added at the time of the conversion. The horse at the bottom is a symbol of the Dukes of Braunschweig, in this case Charles I. All the armorial elements on this helmet were used by regiments that Charles lent to his relative King George III of England to fight in the American Revolutionary War.

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  • Title: Hanukkah Lamp
  • Creator: Unknown Artist/Maker
  • Date Created: 1776-80 with later additions
  • Location: Braunschweig, Germany, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 10 1/2 × 9 1/4 × 2 5/8 in. (26.7 × 23.5 × 6.6 cm)
  • Type: Ceremonial Art
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Copper alloy: die-stamped and cast