Description: An erotic terracotta oil lamp with round nozzle and ring handle, a couple engaged in coitus on a bed modelled on the discus. Overall surface wear and some chips and minor spalling, some soot deposits around the wick hole and patchy earthy encrustation on the lower surface, but sound.
Size: 105 mm/4.1 ins. in length
Date: c. 2nd - 3rd Century A.D.
Provenance: From the estate of a deceased London collector.
Background: The collector, who worked as a buyer for Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, London, built up a fine collection of coins and antiquities purchased from leading London dealers.
Notes: It has been suggested that such erotic lamps may have been used to light the marital bedroom in Roman homes. As an epigram of the Roman poet Martial (40-104 A.D.) says: “I am a night lamp, privy to the pleasures of the couch; do whatever you please, I shall be silent” Martial, Epigrams 14.39.