Pair Sinumbra Lamps in the Restauration Taste, about 1825
Tole (painted tin) and gilt brass, with lighting mechanism, and glass shades, blown, partially frosted, and wheel cut, and glass chimneys
29 1/2 in. high (to the top of the chimneys)
Sinumbra lamps, literally lamps giving light "without shadow," became an important technological innovation in lighting during the period of the Classical Revival. With the light source set at the center of a circular tank that held the fluid that was burned to produce light, the illumination that fell on the table surface was "without shadow,” in contrast to the strong shadow cast by the fuel tank of so-called Argand lamps. Many forms of sinumbra lamps and hanging lamps were produced, and the light was modulated by the use of glass shades, oftentimes in a domical shape, or, as in the present examples, bulbous at the bottom with a flared top, that were generally clear and frosted, and wheel-cut with a wide range of classical designs.
Sinumbra lamps were variously made in glass, ormolu, patinated and gilt-bronze, spelter, and tole, as in the present pair. Most tole examples are of a single color, in which case they are largely green, or black, and occasionally a shade of terracotta red. The present pair of lamps is extremely unusual because of its floral decoration.