Roman, early Imperial Period, ca. 1st century CE. A beautiful cast-leaded-bronze oil lamp in the shape of a stylized right foot wearing an intricate sandal with several thinly incised straps on top. The slender foot has a crested top, five veristic toes with recessed nails, a protruding ankle, a rounded heel, and a thick sandal sole underneath. An upswept, heart-shaped wick spout protrudes out from beneath the ball of the foot, and a petite suspension ring is situated between the second and third toes. The circular ankle top doubles as the lamp's fill hole and was at one time covered by a hinged lid, and a second suspension loop rests atop the thumb rest that curves above a circular ring handle. Matte layers of green and brown patina envelop the entire composition and imbue it with an attractive presentation evocative of ancient Rome. Size: 6.125" L x 1.3" W x 2.625" H (15.6 cm x 3.3 cm x 6.7 cm).
Foot-form vessels were typically intended for votive purposes meant to symbolize an afflicted body part, and bronze lamps like this example were typically owned by wealthy families.
A stylistically similar example, of a slightly larger size, hammered for $9,375 at Christie's, New York "Antiquities" auction (sale 2007, June 4, 2008, lot 252).
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Richard Wagner collection, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, collected in the 1960s
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