an article of Giorgio Busetto - www.silvercollection.it
for ASCAS - Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
a small collection of antique silver and objects of vertu
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After several centuries in which oil lamps (in Italian: lucerna) was 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, mostly being produced in Rome and Papal State, and 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, animals.

shade of a silver oil lampsilver oil lamp:  snuffer, tweezers, estinguisherMost 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.
silver oil lamp silversmith Vincenzo Bugarinishade of silver oil lamp silvesmith Vincenzo Bugarini

Rome 1807/1837, silversmith Vincenzo Bugarini. Four wicks spouts in shape of animal heads. The shade is decorated with the Chigi coat of arms.
silver oil lamp silversmith Vincenzo Belli

Rome, around 1780, silversmith Vincenzo Belli. Shade decorated with two butterflies
oil lamp Rome circa 1835

Rome, around 1835,
silver oil lamp: figural finial decorated with a figural finial depicting an angel with a shield
shade of silver oil lampsilver 
oil lamp silversmith Filippo Pacetti

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
silver oil lamp silversmith Vincenzo Parentisilver oil lamp lyre finial

Rome, around 1820, silversmith Vincenzo Parenti, snuffer and shade of other silversmiths.
Genoa silver oil lamp 1752

Genoa, hallmark 1752. The lamp has a crystal reservoir. The use of crystal for oil reservoir is a typical of Genoan lamps

oil lamp silversmith Girolamo Menazzi

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
silver oil lamp Rome 1830

Rome, 1830, reservoir with one spout held by a figure over a globe
Mercury oil lamp silversmith Antonio Mattei

Rome, 1814, silversmith Antonio Mattei. Mercury was the favourite among Divinities and was frequently used for figural oil lamps
silver oil lamp silversmith Roberto Tombesi

Rome, 1820, silversmith Roberto Tombesi. The female figure holding reservoir is in bronze. The shade was fitted with parchment paper (now missing)

retour d'Egypte 
silver oil lamp

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
retour d'Egypte silver oil lamp

Rome, 1810, silver and bronze. Another example of "retour d'Egypte style"
winged Cupid silver oil lamp silversmith P.P. Rancini

Perugia, 1830, silversmith P.P. Rancini. A winged Cupid supports a one-spout reservoir and the shade in the form of a butterfly
Giorgio Busetto - 2004 -

this article is published on website                               
this is an abstract from a wider study of Giorgio Busetto on oil lamps, available on the web clicking here
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