Friday, July 24, 2009

UK: London Jewish Museum Must Purchase Lindo Hanukkiah on Display for 70 Years

UK: London Jewish Museum Must Purchase Lindo Hanukkiah on Display for 70 Years
by Samuel D. Gruber (based on news reports)

The London Jewish Museum reports that it is close to raising funds needed to purchase the famous 18th century Lindo hanukkiah (click here for photo) which it has displayed for seventy years - since the museum was founded. The silver hanukkiah was commissioned from artisan John Ruslen in 1709 to honor the marriage of Elias Lindo to Rachel Lopes Ferreira. Descendants of the "donors" to the museum want to sell the renowned object, and the museum must raise £300,000 to avoid the work leaving public view to most likely enter a private collection.

Unless the family is really hard up for money or to pay taxes, it seems disgraceful and extortionary that the family should ask for money for the work generations after it was put on display. Are they taking advantage of the Museum's reopening - knowing that this is a central object of the collection, one that the Museum can not afford to lose? One would think that the work is de facto the property of the museum after all these years.

The Museum has raised £250,000, including £145,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), £75,000 from the independent Art Fund, and £30,000 from the MLA/V&A Purchase Fund; £50,000 are still needed. This purchase is on top of the £14 million raised for the expansion of the museum’s Camden Town facility (including £4.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund), scheduled to reopen in early 2010.

In addition to the importance of the Hanukkiah for its age (London's oldest standing synagogue, Bevis Marks, for example, was built only in 1701) and certain provenance, the work is unusual for its iconography of the Prophet Elijah begin fed by Ravens (I Kings 17:6) a allusion to the patron Elias (Elijah) Lindo. Though the subject is not very common in Jewish art, it was popular during the Baroque period in both Catholic and Protestant lands. For example, there is a late 16th century version by the Flemish painter Paolo Fiammingo (now in San Francisco), and a well known version from 1620 by the Italian artist Guercino (coincidentally, now in London at the National Gallery). A version by Dutch artist
Abraham Bloemaert (1564-1651) was copied in prints of the 17th and 18th centuries. Click here to see an anonymous print of the subject from 1712. Such printed works probably influenced Ruslen's design.

Read the full story as reported from (presumably from a press release). The Jerusalem Post ran the story almost verbatim, read it here.

1 comment:

xxsweetpeaxx said...

What mystifies me is who is claiming to be the owner of the lamp? I am a direct descendant of the Lindo family, and not a cousin twice removed, but a nice straight line, and so I am wondering why someone thinks they have the right to demand monies for the lamp as the one only owner? This is a family item, with many descendants, it cannot be owned or claimed by one, and most certainly not one person alone can claim monies surely?