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Home > Auctions > 4th June 2024 > Very Large Roman Bronze Oil Lamp with Actor's Mask

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LOT 0110

GBP (£) 5,000 - 7,000
EUR (€) 5,870 - 8,220
USD ($) 6,370 - 8,920

Current bid: £3,500 (+bp*)
(3 Bids, Reserve not met)

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(3 Bids, Reserve not met)   |   Current bid: £3,500

11 in. (10 7/8 in.) (1.97 kg, 28 cm wide (4.31 kg total, 27.5 cm high including stand)).

With an elongated body and a long nozzle with a rounded tip; raised rim enclosing the upper face with an ivy lef-shaped filling hole; wide handle terminating to a female tragic mask with a palmette below the chin, the hair dressed in ringlets with two rows of curls to the brow, eyes inlaid with silver; accompanied by a custom-made display stand.

Old private British collection, pre-1965.
Property of a gentleman; acquired in the UK before 2000.

Accompanied by a copy of an old black and white photograph and an academic report by Dr Raffaele D’Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by a search certificate number no.12033-215424.

Cf. Bailey, D.M., A catalogue of the lamps in the British Museum, IV, Lamps of metal and stone, and lampstands, London, 1996, no. Q3669 (said to be from Rome) for identical, and Q3670 (preserved only in the identical mask); many other similar examples are from Pompeii, see Valenza Mele, N., Museo Nazionale Archeologico di Napoli, Catalogo delle Lucerne di Bronzo, Rome, 1981, nos.344-345; from the Western Provinces, see Rolland, H., Bronze Antiques de Haute Provence, Paris, 1965, no.357; and from the East, see Bérard, C., Bronzes Hellénistiques et Romains, Lausanne, 1979, pl.116, 7 and 10; cf. also Mitten, D.G., Doeringer, S.F., Master Bronzes from the Classical World, Cambridge, 1967, no.297, for identical, and Edgar, C.C., Greek Bronzes, Catalogue général des antiquités égyptiennes du Musee du Caire, Cairo, 1904, pl.12H.

The lamp is of Loeschke type XX (Walters type 6), with many of these lamps made in Italy, but some are also found in the East. The tragic mask appears frequently on lamp handles, probably as an apotropaic subject. The mask was an inseparable element of unity with the past and religious context.