Clear Glass Sinumbra Lamp, about 1825
Glass, with gilt brass, lighting mechanism, and with glass shade, blown, frosted and wheel cut, and glass chimney
29 3/4 in. high, 10 in. wide, 10 in. deep
Sinumbra lamps, literally lamps giving light “without shadow,” became an important technological innovation in lighting during the period of the Classical Revival, and quickly took the place of Argand lighting, where the fuel tank created a large shadow that was not admired at the time. 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.” Many forms of table lamps and hanging lamps were produced, and the light was modulated by the use of half-dome or pyriform shades, as in the present example, that were variously clear and frosted and wheel cut with a wide variety of designs.
Sinumbra lamps were made of many different materials, most especially ormolu and patinated bronze, as well as spelter and tole. Occasionally, glass sinumbras were made, but presumably due to their fragility, few have survived. The present lamp in clear pressed glass that had been fired polished is thus extremely rare.