Ariadne Galleries

Oil Lamp with Horse Head Handle
Period: First century BC to Second century AD
Culture: Roman
Material: Bronze
Dimensions: 11.5 cm H
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An elegantly formed oil lamp with a fine green patina, this piece reflects the Roman preference for depicting figurative representations in their household items. This vessel has a pear-shaped body with a broad rounded end that tapers in and then sharply outwards towards where it intersects with a smaller rounded head. The sill of the lamp is beautifully crafted and thins in proportion with the taper while also blending in a seamless bevel with the recessed top of the vessel. A filling hole is cut through the centre of the smaller head; a teardrop-shaped orifice marks the centre of the main body. This would have accommodated a papyrus wick. The vessel has a circular base over which the weight of the lamp is concentrated. From the middle of the broad sill, a flat section of bronze curves upwards in the form of a horse’s neck, terminating in the protome of a horse’s head. This has exceptional realistic details in the rendering of the mouth, nose, eyes, ears and facial morphology. The mane is skilfully executed into a series of four lateral partings.



London Art Market, 1984.

Published: Spain: A Heritage Rediscovered BC 3000- AD 711, Ariadne Galleries, New York, 1992, no. 114