ITALIAN ANTIQUE SILVER OIL LAMPS
(in Italian called LUCERNA)
A selection of silver oil lamps (in Italian oil lamp is called "lucerna"
After several centuries in which oil lamps (lucerna) have fallen into disuse,
they became popular again around the mid 18th century in the form of a silver lamp with a reservoir, applied
to a long rod, and supported by a large base (usually wood weighed). This new production of silver oil lamps
was restricted to Italy, with many being produced in Rome and Papal State, and more limited quantity being
produced in Naples, Milan, Genoa, Venice and Florence. Some examples have Maltese hallmarks, mostly destined
for customers in Naples and other cities in Southern Italy.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the
neo-classical taste resulted in the production of figural oil lamps in which the reservoirs are supported by
human figures (mostly in Egyptians clothing), Greek or Roman Divinities (especially Mercury) and, sometimes,
Most lamps were provided with a shade and were equiped with snuffers, tweezers and estinguishers hanging
from chains applied to the rod. A pecualiarity of some lamps made in Genoa is the glass reservoir.
Production of silver oil lamps ceased in the late19th century when more efficient sources of illumination
became available, even if a limited production survived in the 20th century exclusively for decorative
purposes. The photos that follow depict some examples of silver oil lamps.
Rome 1807/1837, silversmith Vincenzo Bugarini. Four wicks spouts in shape of animal heads. The shade is
decorated with the Chigi coat of arms.
Rome, around 1780, silversmith Vincenzo Belli. Shade decorated with two butterflies
Rome, around 1835, decorated with a figural finial depicting an angel with a shield
Rome, around 1820, silversmith Filippo Pacetti. The lamp has parts from other makers, the handle is by
Vincenzo Bugarini, the butterfly-form shade has a maker's mark not clear, the tweezers are by G.L. Valadier,
the snuffer and estinguisher are of later date
Rome, around 1820, silversmith Vincenzo Parenti, snuffer and shade of other silversmiths. ).
Genoa, hallmark 1752. The lamp has a crystal reservoir. The use of crystal for oil reservoir is a typical
of Genoan lamps
Rome, 1825, silversmith Girolamo Menazzi. Stem is a column supporting reservoir with four wicks spouts in
the form of human heads. The lamp has chains for its maintenance accessories
reservoir with one spout held by a figure over a globe
Rome, 1814, silversmith Antonio Mattei. Mercury was the favourite among Divinities and was frequently used
for figural oil lamps
Rome, 1820, silversmith Roberto Tombesi. The female figure holding reservoir is in bronze. The shade was
fitted with parchment paper (now missing)
Rome, 1805, silversmith Antonio de Caporali. Silver, bronze and polychrome marbles. A typical example of
"retour d'Egypt" style which spread after Napoleon's campaign in Egypt
Rome, 1810, silver and bronze. Another example of "retour d'Egypte style"
Perugia, 1830, silversmith P.P. Rancini. A winged Cupid supports a one-spout reservoir and the shade in the
form of a butterfly