Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Cupid


A finely modelled Ancient Roman terracotta oil lamp, featuring an attached loop handle, a short canal nozzle with volutes, a decorated concave discus and one filling hole. The discus is decorated with two concentric circles surrounding the depiction of a winged Cupid, portrayed playing with a dog.

Date: 1st – 3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex major London collection collected by S.M. 1970-2010
Condition: Fine. Signs of aging and earthly encrustations on the surface. Slight blackening to the spout from use. Abrasions to the reverse.


Eros as a force of physical desire dates back at least as far as the works of Homer, but the concept of Eros quickly became more refined. He became, to the classical Greeks, a personified deity of exceptional beauty and playfulness. His depiction on this pottery lamp, seen playing with a dog, is indeed testament to his cheeky character. Eros’ tricks were typically played on lovers, using his arrows to manipulate romantic situations, and to punish those who resisted his efforts.

Weight 80 g
Dimensions L 12.5 cm

Roman Mythology


Pottery and Porcelain