Hanukkah Lamp

Unknown Artist/Maker18th century (?)

The Jewish Museum, New York

The Jewish Museum, New York

This lamp is the finest and most elaborate example of a group in the form of round arches supported by columns. These architectural elements are cast and applied to a backplate of sheet metal. The round arch originated in ancient Greek architecture; during the Renaissance, Filippo Brunelleschi revived the principles of classical architecture. The balustrade on the bench of the lamp, which would have held the oil containers, is also in Renaissance style.

The inspiration for the use of this architectural form on a Hanukkah lamp could possibly have been the Renaissance tabernacle frame. These wooden frames, consisting of a round arch supported by elaborate columns, were designed to hold religious images for private devotion, particularly in the fifteenth century. Instead of icons, the arches on the earliest versions of wall-hung Hanukkah lamps have only plain reflective sheets of metal.

The round arch continued to be used in buildings more or less through the nineteenth century, and so it is often difficult to determine the date of the lamps from architectural comparison alone. The examples in the collection all have sand-cast arches and columns, suggesting post-Renaissance dates, perhaps as early as the eighteenth century, when at least one sand-cast lamp in Italian style is known.

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  • Title: Hanukkah Lamp
  • Creator: Unknown Artist/Maker
  • Date Created: 18th century (?)
  • Location: Italy, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 14 1/8 × 16 1/4 × 5 1/2 in. (35.9 × 41.3 × 14 cm)
  • Provenance: ?. [R. Stora by 1948; sold to Friedman]; Dr. Harry G. Friedman (until 1948)
  • Type: Ceremonial Art
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Copper alloy: sheet metal, appliqué, and cast; wood; iron