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. Radcliffe convincingly attributed this work and the closely related Sacrifice to Cupid to the Mantuan medalist Cristoforo di Geremia, who was active in Rome.(1) Originally both plaquettes were often combined with all’antica oil lamps, and in the antiquarian literature were confused with authentic Roman bronze lamps. Radcliffe tentatively read the inscription .L.C.I. 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.(2) The Lehman plaquette appears to be an old aftercast with some loss of detail, possibly dating from the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
Catalogue entry from: Frits Scholten. The Robert Lehman Collection. European Sculpture and Metalwork, Vol. XII. Frits Scholten, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2011, p. 160.
1. Radcliffe, Anthony. "Two Early Romano-Mantuan Plaquettes." In Italian Plaquettes, edited by Alison Luchs. Studies in the History of Art (National Gallery of Art) 22. Washington, D.C., 1989, pp. 93 - 98.
2. Ibid., p. 101.