Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Lamp with Christ Trampling the Beasts

Object Name:
5th century
Probably made in Tunesia
Earthenware; molded
L. 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)
W. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1927
Accession Number:
Not on view
Small earthenware lamps, made from double molds, were the most commonly used source of light in North Africa during the early Byzantine period. A wick produced from plant fiber or linen fabric was placed in a reservoir filled with oil, generally castor or sesame oil, and illuminated. The disc of this lamp depicts the standing figure of Christ holding a cross-staff and treading underfoot the lion, the dragon, the asp, and the basilisk. He is nimbed and flanked by flying angels. The image is enclosed by a broad rim decorated with circles enclosing the christogram (monogram for Christ’s name), foliated lozenges, and chevrons. Religious images used as decoration were thought to offer protection for the lamp’s owner.
Count Grigory Sergeievich Stroganoff, Palazzo Stroganoff, Rome (until d. 1910); his daughter, Princess Maria Grigorievna Scerbatov, Palazzo Stroganoff, Rome (from 1910); Elia Volpi, Florence (until 1927; his sale, American Art Association, NewYork, March 31–April 1, 1927, to MMA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Age of Spirituality," November 19, 1977–February 12, 1978, no. 471.

Forth Worth, TX. Kimbell Art Museum. "Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art," November 18, 2007–March 30, 2008, no. 471.

Wietzmann, K., ed. "Late Antique and early Christian Art, 3rd–7th century." In Age of Spirituality. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979. no. 471, p. 526, ill. (b/w).

Spier, Jeffrey, ed. "the Earliest Christian Art." In Picturing the Bible. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. no. 471.

Bouras, Laskarina, and Maria G. Parani. Lighting in Early Byzantium. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2008. no. 18, pp. 72-73, ill.

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