The Freud Museum

Oil Lamp

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4238, Oil Lamp, c. A.D. 40-80

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Roman
Material: Terracotta
Dimensions: 7/8 x 4 x 3 in / 2.2 x 10.3 x 7.9 cm

Roman oil lamps, such as this one, were often decorated with erotic scenes. Made of light brown clay covered in dark slip, the top and bottom of the lamp were made in separate moulds and then joined together.

Moulded reliefs of erotic scenes commonly decorated Roman lamps. In this scene, a woman sits astride a man who reclines on a couch. She faces right with her torso turned toward the viewer. Both are naked except for crumpled bedclothes. An erotic scene may denote the use of the lamp as a bedside light.

Mass manufactured and cheap, the lamps were filled with olive oil and lit with a wick. This lamp has a nozzle, which held the wick, and a second hole, located beneath the couch, into which the oil was poured. Freud collected many oil lamps, mostly undecorated, often giving them as gifts.

See this object on our Collections site here 


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