What kind of menorah is this?
December 22, 2019 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone tell me anything about this menorah? It’s obviously a depiction of Judah Maccabee. The shamash is on the right. My grandfather gave it to me years ago. There’s no markings indicating where it was made. I’m pretty sure it’s brass. Is there a name for this particular style of art? I remember my grandparents having other, similar artwork in their home. I clearly remember the angular figures and pupil-less eyes.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total)
The menorah says "the miracles and the wonders". The green enamel on brass or just brass is incredibly common for midcentury Judaica made in Israel. It's not quite brutalist IMO, which was surprisingly common, but it's in that style.
posted by Sophie1 at 4:48 PM on December 22, 2019

Chag sameach!
posted by Sophie1 at 4:49 PM on December 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

My experience is limited to some bronze and jewelry casting classes in art school but looks to me like sand cast brass. It's riffing on an ancient style but I'd also say late fifties/early sixties. Sand casting is a pretty basic production method, so it could've been made in an art school or small shop just about anywhere. The design would have been carved into a board that was placed in a box and packed with sand for each reproduction. While it's possible to do lots of detail, the technique lends itself to simpler, stylized stuff like this.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:53 PM on December 22, 2019

It’s not unique... I’m pretty sure that my grandparents had the same one.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 8:04 PM on December 22, 2019

I presume it's meant to depict the discovery of a sealed jug of oil in the Temple after its recapture by the Hasmoneans. I don't see why it should be an illustration of Judah the Maccabee in particular.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:04 AM on December 23, 2019

This is a common style of Midcentury Chanukiah made in Israel in the 50's and 60's. Sorry it's not a unique find, but it is really nice and in good shape. As you can see at the bottom, that's the wall of the temple depicted where the lights are. Look at where the light cups are - are they soldered in, or are they screwed in? If they are soldered, it's likely from the 50's. If they are screwed in, likely from the 60's. Both can be considered Midcentury. I have seen collectors refer to this particular style as Judeo-Brutalist which I personally really like as it's a very evocative term that describes this style of Judaica, but YMMV. Brass and brass plate were super common in Israel at that time.

Here are some examples of Midcentury Judaica, both Judeo-Brutalist and not. It can help you recognize it!

I am a collector of Midcentury Judaica and have a pretty extensive collection, but not this particular one. It's in nice shape, from a collector's eye. The facial features of the Maccabee there are still in good condition. Be sure to just clean it off with a soft cloth and don't polish it. The polish will destroy the patina! Use a blowdryer to slightly melt the stuck wax and peel it off with toothpicks or a sharpened chopstick.
posted by juniperesque at 7:17 AM on December 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

This is a common style of Midcentury Chanukiah made in Israel in the 50's and 60's

Yes, I have a one in a very similar style that my grandparents bought in Jerusalem at around that time.
posted by rue72 at 9:43 AM on December 23, 2019

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