Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; by purchase to James Barclay; by purchase to Uriah P. Levy; by descent to Jefferson Monroe Levy; by purchase to Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1923.
Accession Number: 1923-16
Historical Notes: This four-branch brass hanging Argand lamp, with a central oil reservoir, and acanthus-leaf ornaments, was probably made in England.1 It may be the "passage lanthern" that Jefferson purchased for Monticello in 1805 from the Philadelphia stationers Caldcleugh and Thomas.2 "Lanthern" then referred to lamps of this type, as well as hanging lamps for candles consisting of glass panes in a metal frame. Two years later, Jefferson bought "lanthern ornaments" from the same firm, including a balance shell, brass chain, and double pullies, suggesting that at this time the Entrance Hall ceiling was prepared for hanging the lamp.3
The inventory taken after Jefferson's death fails to mention this hanging lamp in the Entrance Hall, but it does include some wall-mounted lamps that were probably also Argand types. Jefferson sent some of the first Argand lamps from England to the United States in 1786.