During the Roman Empire, a lamp was originally called a ‘lychnus’, from the Greek ‘λυχνος’, with the oldest Roman lamps dating back to the third century BC. It is thought that the Romans took the idea for lamps from the Greek colonies of Southern Italy. During the Roman Empire, it became commonplace to use lamps in funeral ceremonies and for public purposes. Over time, the manufacture of lamps increased, and so did the variation in decoration, which depended mainly on the shape and size of the lamp. Pottery oil lamps could be made in three different ways: handmade, wheel made, or by mould. The use of the mould (which was made from clay or plaster) quickly became popular, because one mould could produce several lamps.
Roman Terracotta Oil Lamp with Leaf Protrusion
A fine Roman terracotta oil lamp featuring a relatively long spout with a ring handle at the back, decorated with a leaf protrusion to help the forefinger counter-balance the weight of the lamp. The leaf displays finely rendered naturalistic veins. The concave discus features a rosette displaying fourteen petals surrounding the central large filling-hole. Two small side protrusions sit to the outside of the body, decorated with curves and dots. The oil lamp stands on a flat ring foot.
Provenance: From the collection of Arno Jumpertz, Leverkusen, Germany, 1924-1984. Much of the collection was exhibited at the Neus Museum, 1985.
Condition: Fine condition,cracks to the nozzle with a small chip. The oil lamp is mounted on a custom-made stand.