About This Artwork

Roman

Lamp, Mid-1st century AD

Bronze
11.5 x 21.7 x 14 cm (4 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.)

James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, 1985.1041a-b

The windowless rooms of Roman buildings required artificial illumination, which was frequently provided by oil lamps. While inexpensive terracotta lamps were widely used, bronze lamps were luxury items produced for wealthier people. The handle of this lamp is adorned with a crescent moon surmounted by a bust of Jupiter, king of the gods, and his companion animal, the eagle, which clutches a thunderbolt (a symbol of the god) in its talons. A knobbed lid tops the container, which would have been filled with olive oil.

—Permanent collection label


This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, Private Taste in Ancient Rome: Selections from Chicago Collections, March 3–September 16, 1990, cat. 23.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 156, April 20, 1994 - February 6, 2012.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Of Gods and Glamour: The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, Gallery 152, November 11, 2012 - present.

Publication History

Sandra E. Knudsen, “Cat. 142 Lamp: Curatorial Entry,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).

John Twilley, “Cat. 142 Lamp: Technical Report,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).

Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, Antiquities, sale cat. (Sotheby’s, Nov. 22, 1974), lot 272 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1985–86 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1986), p. 72.

Karen Alexander and Mary Greuel, Private Taste in Ancient Rome: Selections from Chicago Collections, exh. brochure (Art Institute of Chicago, 1990), cat. 23 (ill.).

Karen B. Alexander, “From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago, 2012), p. 33.




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