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Oil Lamp with nozzles in the shape of Heads and Ships’ Prows (1st century CE)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Oil Lamp with nozzles in the shape of Heads and Ships’ Prows (1st century CE).

About the Work

Title : Oil Lamp with nozzles in the shape of Heads and Ships’ Prows
Year : 1st century CE
Medium : Leaded Bronze
Dimensions : h. 10.5 x diam. 25.8 cm (4 1/8 x 10 3/16 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

 

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“The lamp has six nozzles designed in two alternating styles. The three larger nozzles are in the form of volutes with a rosette at each termination and, on the underside, the head of a deity emerging from a corolla composed of seven long, evenly spaced loops in low relief. The three smaller nozzles are in the form of ships’ prows. The rounded, bowl-shaped reservoir is encircled with a vine, applied after the wax model for the body was cast.”

The work showcases the tendency of artists to draw inspiration from the world around them. It also shows that even utilitarian objects were made by highly skilled craftsmen, and were created as objets d’art. This particular lamp, according to the museum, was meant to be  viewed from below, given that it is most heavily decorated at the bottom surface.

Other Details

Oil Lamp with nozzles in the shape of Heads and Ships’ Prows is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 3700. It is part of the museum’s collection of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art – Roman Art. The piece has been housed at the  Museum since 1990.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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