Oil table lamp, art nouveau style, made from bronze, brass and glass, 'Matador' burner made by Ehrich & Graetz, Germany / lamp made in France c. 1900
Among the vast range of oil lamp designs available in Europe at the turn of the 20th century, those made in France in the Art Nouveau style are the most attractive. Although glass shades enjoyed the greatest popularity, lamps with decorative metal shades in polished brass (sometimes combined with glass) were also in demand. Made from finely cast and hand- wrought and decorated metal components, this table lamp is a wonderful example of French Art Nouveau style. The style is evident in its sinuous legs and arms, beautifully crafted shade swith a whiplash ribbon, and a striking burner container decorated with a continuing frieze with a whiplash motif. The 'Matador' burner by Ehrich & Graetz and the original 'Veritas' glass chimney complete the lamp.
Although, electric lamps were used in domestic interiors from the 1880s (the incandescent light bulb was introduced in 1879), oil lamps continued to enjoy popularity well into the 20th century. Lamp manufacturers often used similar designs for both types of lamp. Even though the outer design was similar the means of producing light was different.
Generally known as oil or spirit lamps, non-electric lamps of the period used mostly kerosene or paraffin oil which was a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons obtained by the distillation of petroleum (mineral oil) or of coal and bituminous shale. Kerosene replaced whale and other crude oils in oil lamps from the mid 1850s in the USA. It became widely used in Europe in the 1860s. Sometimes other fuels such as methylated spirit were used. Methylated spirit was a clean and pleasant fuel favoured particularly by some French manufacturers.
European lamp makers began producing kerosene lamps in larger numbers from about 1863, with German, Belgian, Austrian and English (Birmingham) firms leading the field. They made various types of burners for these lamps such as those with flat wick or folded flat wick.The most popular round-flame burner with flame spreader in continental Europe was known as the 'Matador' and was introduced about 1895 by a Berlin firm Ehrich & Graetz. Widely imported, this was a popular choice for French lamp producers.
The lamp was made in France by an unidentified maker; the oil burner was made by Ehrich & Graetz in Berlin, Germany. Made c. 1895-1905. (The 'Matador' burner with flame spreader was developed by the German firm in about 1895.)