Hanukkah Lamp

Unknown Artist/Makersecond half 18th century

The Jewish Museum, New York

The Jewish Museum, New York

This lamp portrays two kneeling deer, their heads turned gracefully backward, their hooves touching an acanthus plant. Several of the decorative elements suggest an eighteenth-century date for this design scheme. Acanthus leaves became most popular in the Baroque period, while the oval frieze on the lower portion is characteristic of western Ukrainian architecture of the second half of the eighteenth century.
The museum owns eight examples of this type, which proved most beneficial when seeking to identify diagnostic traits that would establish the actual dates that each eastern European cast lamp was produced. The lamps were all made by sand casting, in which a model, often of wood or metal, is pressed into fine sand mixed with clay, then removed, and molten brass poured into the impression. The finished product will always be about one to two percent smaller than the model. When a model wears out, a casting from that model, which is smaller, is often used as the model for the next generation. One can therefore establish successive generations from a single or related model if one has identical cast pieces that are increasingly smaller than the largest version.
Using tracings of the backplates of each of the eight lamps, it was possible to establish several generations and observe changes in the way the pieces were constructed over time. These helped establish a relative chronology, and aided by several dated examples, some idea of when all the lamps in the collection were created was obtained.
This lamp proved to be probably the earliest eastern European cast lamp in the museum's possession. Although now missing the upper portion, it is the largest in size and exhibits the finest execution, the most delicate openwork, and the greatest amount of casting detail of any of its type in the collection.
Two examples in the Museum of Ethnography and Crafts in Lvov suggest that the type was used in eastern Galicia.

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  • Title: Hanukkah Lamp
  • Creator: Unknown Artist/Maker
  • Date Created: second half 18th century
  • Location: Ukraine, Europe, Poland, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 11 3/8 × 10 × 5 1/2 in. (28.8 × 25.4 × 14 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