The silver light of the oil lamps

Oil lamps boast an ancient tradition, it is enough to think that already Homer remembers their use in the Odyssey. It is a lamp with a container for oil and one or more spouts for the wick. In the course of the centuries it has taken the most different shapes, with handles, with more or less elongated wicks, openings for aeration, with more or less covered recipients. Materials have also been various: clay, bronze, stone, glass, silver and even gold.

A re-discovery in the Neoclassical period

The most sought-after oil lamps today by antique collectors are Neoclassical oil lamps. The historical period that took Classical Antiquity back in vogue renewed the use of oil lamps. Artists and great silversmiths of the time tested themselves in the drawing and modeling of true works of art with shapes and decorations reclaimed from Classical Antiquity.  

The shapes from the Classical world

From the most simple shapes with high smooth shaft or column-shaped decorated by Greek frets or leaves wreaths to the more elaborated shafts. The most sought-after are true sculptures. The shafts are modeled as Mercury, Bacchus, Caryatids, handmaids and then Egyptian slaves, winged victories that hold the recipient.

The importance of details

Oil lamps are accompanied by accessories for the functioning and the switching off and are hanged to small chains. For the collector it is important that they are complete and that they present the same stamps as the silver of the oil lamp. The accessories are: pliers, flash suppressor, scissors and a small fan.

The primacy of the Papal State

The production of these lamps occurred mainly in the Papal State even if it interested Naples, Milan, Genova and Veneto to a lesser extent. The most popular Roman silversmiths that worked in the idealisation and making of oil lamps are to be considered true artists. First among the most celebre are Valadier and then Vincenzo Belli, Filippo Pacetti, Pietro Paolo Spagna, Vincenzo Bugarini.

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