Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Sacrifice to Priapus

Artist:
Cristoforo di Geremia (Italian, Mantua, active 1456–76)
Date:
model ca. 1470 (possibly cast 16th century)
Medium:
Copper alloy with dull brown patina.
Dimensions:
9.1 x 5.7 cm, wt. 47.22 g.
Classification:
Plaquettes
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.1343
Not on view
This plaquette is in the form of the cover of an all’antica oil lamp, decorated with three women offering sacrifices to an ithyphallic Priapus herm statue on a tripod altar. This work and the closely related Sacrifice to Cupid have been attributed to the Mantuan medalist Cristoforo di Geremia, who was active in Rome. Originally both plaquettes were often combined with all’antica oil lamps, and in the antiquarian literature were confused with authentic Roman bronze lamps. The inscription .L.C.I. has been interpreted as “Lucerna Continui Ignis” (the eternally burning lamp), following a seventeenth-century interpretation by Fortunius Licetus, who related this type of plaquette and its accompanying lamp to legendary ancient Roman lamps that were found burning after 1,500 years or more. The Lehman plaquette appears to be an old aftercast with some loss of detail, possibly dating from the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
Fürstlich Hohenzollernsche Sammlung, Sigmaringen; Sigmaringen sale, Hugo Helbing, Frankfurt, 4 December 1933, lot 171; [Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Company, Paris and New York]. Acquired by Robert Lehman through Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Company.
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