PROPERTY RECENTLY RESTITUTED TO THE FAMILY OF ITS FORMER OWNERS
Elizabeth Moses, Jüdische Kunst- und Kulturedenkmäler in den Rheinlanden, Düsseldorf:1931, p. 161.
Susan L. Braunstein, Five Centuries of Hanukkah Lamps from the Jewish Museum: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York: The Jewish Museum, 2005, pp. 68 (where double-listed as Oppler Collection and Central Synagogue, 237.
This is one of a group of four elaborate Hanukah lamps made about 1710-15 by the silversmith Thomas Tuebner in Halberstadt, Prussia; two are now in the Jewish Museum New York (JM 27-53 and 29-64) and the third in the Israel Museum.
These are significant and luxurious objects (this example weighs over 30 ounces or 1000 grams), and their fabrication has been linked with Isaccher Berend Lehmann of Halberstadt (1661-1730), Court Jew for Augustus the Strong of Saxony. Even with a post in Dresden, Lehmann remained active in Halberstadt, financing an impressive synagogue in Bakenstrasse which was completed in 1712. Lehmann may have given the lamps as gifts to other Court Jews whom he would have met at the coronation of Emperor Karl VI as Holy Roman Emperor in December, 1711.
The first documented owner of this piece is Samson Wertheimer (1658-1724), Chief Rabbi of Hungary and Moravia, Rabbi of Eisenstadt, and Court Jew to Emperor Leopold I and his successors. Wertheimer served as financier and creditor to the Austrian state, negotiating the dowry of the daughter of the King of Poland, supplying the army during the War of Spanish Succession, and paying the Imperial rewards to Prince Eugene of Savoy. He was called the "Jewish Emperor", and possessed extensive palaces and estates, as well as a guard of Imperial soldiers for his residence. He presided over a Rabbinical court, delivered the funeral sermons for several important Rabbis, and was a patron if important Jewish authors.
In 1929 art historian Theodor Harburger (1887-1949) and collector and genealogist Michael Beroldzheimer (1866-1942) researched the lamp and its provenance with Dr. Sigmund Oppler, the then-owner. The descent they established is reproduced here, with corrections. In 1931 a photograph of the lamp was published by Elisabeth Moses in her work Jüdische Kunst- und Kulturedenkmäler in den Rheinlanden.
The lamp entered the Oppler family when Ella Cohen, Wertheimer's descendant, married architect Edwin Oppler. Oppler studied with Viollet le Duc in Paris and worked on the restoration of the ceiling of Notre Dame. On returning to Germany, he had an active career, working mainly in the Gothic and Romanesque styles. His clients included King George V of Hanover, for whom he worked at Schloss Marienburg from 1864 to 1867, and nobility such as the Count von Solms at Schloss Braunfells (1880). For Jewish patrons he built synagogues in Hanover (1863-70), Breslau (1866-72), Karlsbad (1877), and Hameln (1879).
On Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, these four synagogues of Edwin Oppler's were all destroyed. His son, Dr. Sigmund Oppler, owner of the lamp, and grandson Edwin Oppler were arrested in Hanover and taken to Buchenwald. Edwin was released three weeks later and given a week to leave Germany. Sigmund, his father, was held at Buchenwald for almost six weeks and violently abused. Dr. Oppler and his wife, Lilli, managed to emigrate to the Netherlands in 1939, but were unable to join Edwin in New York; the couple died in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in 1942.
We would like to thank Bernhard Purin of The Jewish Museum, Munich for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.
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