Vetusta Monumenta: Ancient Monuments

Plate I: A bronze lamp excavated from St. Leonard's Hill near Windsor

Transcription:

Non Extinguetur.  Lucerna aenea Romana ex Monte S.ti Leonardi juxta Windsoram efossa A.o 1717.  Societas Londini Rei Antiquariae Studiosa.  Ian: A.0 MDCCXVIII
 

Translation [EB]:

Shall not be extinguished.  Bronze roman lamp excavated from St. Leonard's Hill near Windsor in 1717.  Society of Antiquaries of London.  January 1718.

Plate:

Unsigned engraving (presumably by Vertue) from a drawing by John Talman (1677-1726), Director, who presented it for use as a “symbol” of the society and a “headpiece or Emblem” to be used in the society’s publications (Evans 1956: 70).  The image appears here in this capacity, as it does in most publications of the Society down to the present. 
 

Object:  

Circa-fourteenth-century bronze lamp, with circular base added in the early eighteenth century.  “At first the lamp was presumed to be Roman; it was found at St. Leonard’s Hill, Windsor, in 1717 together with various Roman remains, and closely resembles oil lamps discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum.  However, it is now known to be medieval and recent research suggests it may be Jewish” (Gaimster et al. 2007: 61).  Emanuel (2000) recounts the historiography of the object and presents evidence that it was in fact a medieval Jewish sabbath lamp.
 

Provenance/Location: 

Presently in the museum of the Society of Antiquaries of London, LDSAL 56.  First excavated at Windsor in 1717 and given to the Society by the original owner, Sir Hans Sloane, in 1736.
 

Commentary [NH]

Talman (and perhaps the engraver) took some liberties with this lamp, as a comparison with the photograph in Gaimster shows. Since Talman designed the image as a symbol or device rather than scientific documentation, it is not surprising to find the octagonal basin rounded off and imaginary wicks inserted on all sides.  The addition of the wicks and the smoke underscores the symbolic recoding of this lamp as a lamp of learning.  In addition to the base, a physical object added to emulate the presumed original function of the lamp as a table lamp (Gaimster), Talman adds an imaginary cartouche with botanical flourishes for the caption (reminiscent of Wenceslaus Hollar’s designs) as well as a banner to bear the motto (“Non Extinguetur”), drawing on well-known conventions of neoclassical design.  The engraving, the first to appear, was already published in late summer 1717, before the official re-establishment of the Society.  Talman presented further versions of this design to the Society in January and March of 1718 (Evans 1956: 70).
 

Works Cited

Emanuel, R. R.  2000.  “The Society of Antiquaries’ Sabbath Lamp,” Antiquaries Journal 80: 309-15.
Evans, Joan.  1956.  A History of the Society of Antiquaries.  Oxford: Society of Antiquaries of London. 
Gaimster, David, and David Starkey, eds. 2007.  Making History: Antiquaries in Britain, 1707-2007. London: Royal Academy. Cat. No. 32, p. 61

Further Reading

Piggott, Stuart.  1951.  “The Society’s Lamp.”  Antiquaries Journal 31: 74. 
Richmond, I. A.  1950.  “Stukeley’s Lamp, The Badge of the Society of Antiquaries.” Antiquaries Journal 30: 22-27.

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