Hanukkah Lamp

Christian Gottlieb Muche1761-72

The Jewish Museum, New York

The Jewish Museum, New York

The lamp represents the heroine Judith holding the head of Holofernes. In this version, a hand pours a pitcher of oil on her head, a device seen also on Italian lamps, where the oil is poured into a seven-branch menorah. This no doubt was meant to equate the miracle of the single jar of oil with Judith's triumph over Holofernes, which the medieval rabbis also counted as a miracle.
The inclusion of Judith in this late-eighteenth-century lamp may represent yet another association she engendered over time. The lamp was made in Breslau, which had been in Austria until it was seized by Frederick the Great of Prussia in 1741. In the political struggles that ensued, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria took on the qualities of a triumphant Judith standing up to a new Holofernes (Frederick) in the public imagination. Two oratorios about Judith were written around this time, possibly inspired by the empress, and became wildly popular. The renewed interest in Judith in this region, and possibly even Austrian loyalist tendencies, perhaps influenced the artist's and patron's choice of a heroic figure for this lamp.

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  • Title: Hanukkah Lamp
  • Creator: Christian Gottlieb Muche
  • Date Created: 1761-72
  • Location: Wroclaw, Poland, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 5 15/16 × 11 1/16 × 1 7/8 in. (15.1 × 28.1 × 4.8 cm)
  • Type: Ceremonial Art
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Silver: repoussé, engraved, traced, punched, parcel-gilt, and cast