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Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

The Art Fund Helps Jewish Museum in its Bid to Save 300 Year Old Silver Hanukah Lamp

London’s Jewish Museum announced that it is getting closer to saving a 300 year old Hanukah lamp for the nation, thanks to the support of independent charity The Art Fund and other funding bodies. The ‘Lindo lamp’ is the earliest known English Hanukah lamp and is one of the most important treasures of British Jewish heritage in the museum.

Hanukah lampThe museum has received grants totalling to £250,000 towards the sum of £300,000 needed to purchase this unique piece of 18th century silver Judaica from its current owners. The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) has agreed to contribute £145,000 while independent charity The Art Fund and the MLA /V&A Purchase Fund have awarded £75,000 and £30,000 respectively. However, the museum still needs to raise the remaining £50,000 from private sources in order to secure the future of this outstanding item and to prevent it from being removed from the public sphere.

The Hanukah lamp has been on loan to the Jewish Museum since the 1930’s and has been on display for over 70 years. It was commissioned from silversmith John Ruslen in 1709 on the marriage of Elias Lindo to Rachel Lopes Ferreira. The Lindos were prominent members of the early community of Spanish and Portuguese Jews in London and founder members of Bevis Marks Synagogue, established in 1701. Elias’s father, Isaac Lindo (1638 – 1712), fled the Inquisition in the Canary Isles and settled in London in 1670. The backplate of the Hanukah lamp is chased with the figure of Elijah fed by the ravens, in a play on the patron’s Hebrew name.

The Jewish Museum is currently underway with a major £10 million Development Project, part funded by a £4.2 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and plans to reopen in early 2010. The expansion will triple the space at the museum’s flagship Camden Town premises, bring together the collections, displays and activities of its two former sites and create new education facilities and exhibition galleries with hands-on displays for children and families. The lamp would be on public display in the newly developed gallery, Judaism: A Living Faith, housing the museum’s magnificent collection of Jewish ceremonial art which has been awarded Designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in recognition of its outstanding national importance.

Rickie Burman, Jewish Museum Director, said: ‘We are delighted to receive these significant grant awards which bring us closer to securing the future of the Lindo lamp as part of the permanent collections and new displays at the Jewish Museum. We now urgently need to raise the remaining £50,000. It would be tragic if this gem of Anglo-Jewish heritage would vanish from public view in this country. The acquisition of the lamp would be an excellent way to mark this outstanding object’s 300th birthday this year.’

Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the NHMF, said: “Hanukah lamps are central to Jewish celebrations and the Lindo Lamp is particularly special as it is the first one known to have been made in England. It is witness to 300 years of Jewish history in this country and it’s wonderful that the National Heritage Memorial Fund is helping to save it for future generations.”

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: “Not only is this lamp historically important, it is also linked to a family who were great patrons of the arts, chiming with The Art Fund’s core purpose as an independent charity dedicated to saving works of art for the nation. We therefore strongly support the Jewish Museum’s bid to acquire the Lindo Lamp.”

Janet Davies, Head of Regional Liaison & Purchase Grant Fund V&A Museum, said: “Competition for Purchase Grant Fund support is intense but there was no hesitation in wishing to support this acquisition as a very fine piece of 18th century silver smithing of great historical importance and one which has been central to the Jewish Museum’s public displays for 76 years. ”