Vincenzo Belli Silver “Florentine” Oil Lamp Rome, third quarter of the XVIII Century


Florentine’ silver oil lamp. Moulded mixtilinear base, smooth stem with circular section and faceted vase-shaped profiling at the ends, oil cup with four spouts decorated with cartouche motifs, removable lid recalling part of the work on the stem, handle composed of ‘C’-shaped elements and leaf volutes. Cartouche-shaped lampshade fan with rocaille-style engravings, in the centre the heraldic coat of arms of the De Angelis family surmounted by the stamp and supported by a pair of eagles. Rocaille motifs also decorate the slider that allows the height adjustment of the fan. Complete with chains supporting the smokestack, extinguisher, poker and tongs. Engraved is the silversmith’s hallmark ‘V B’ (Vincenzo Belli) and the Chamber stamp.

Dimensions: h 82 cm, max l. 33 cm, base diam. 24 cm



Historical Stylistic Analysis:

The term “lucerna” refers to an oil lamp, the origin and use of which dates back to ancient times, having been one of the main and most common means of illumination in antiquity. Having fallen into disuse over the centuries, it came back into vogue from the 16th century onwards thanks to some technical modifications that made it more usable.
Our specimen, which can be dated to the third quarter of the 18th century, can be traced back to the so-called ‘Florentine’ type, a model derived from the ancient lanterns on a stand and used since the 14th century especially in the Tuscan capital, hence the name. For the birth and diffusion of long-stemmed shapes, as well as the use of silver for their production, it was necessary, however, to wait until the 18th century, a period in which Rome and the cities of the Papal States hosted the most important Italian silversmiths’ workshops of the time. These included the Belli, a renowned family of silversmiths originally from Piedmont and active between Turin and Rome between the 18th and 19th centuries. Vincenzo Belli (Turin, 1710 – Rome, 1787), son of Bartolomeo, worked for a few years in Turin, in workshops that carried out commissions for the House of Savoy, and later moved to Rome, where from 1740 he was among the active silversmiths at the head of a flourishing workshop located, at first, next to the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, and then moved to the vicinity of the Teatro Valle.

The oil lamp analysed here is to be attributed to Vincenzo’s Roman production, both in terms of its decorative-formal style, in keeping with the taste of the richer Roman Baroque and characterised by an elegance and grace learnt during his work in Turin, and for the presence of the hallmarks: ‘V B’, the silversmith’s personal hallmark containing the initials of his name and surname, and the city chamber seal of guarantee depicting the keys of heaven crossed with a banner (basilica) placed in the centre. Vincenzo Belli’s style was much appreciated by the Roman, Italian and international nobility and this is testified by the many important works he executed, including, for example, the sacred silverware for the chapel of St. John the Baptist in the Church of St. Roch in Lisbon, commissioned by King John V of Portugal, and a group of four soup tureens, made for a Torlonia family in Rome, now dispersed in various private collections. It is precisely in the context of the patronage of the Roman aristocracy that the oil lamp in the studio, originally owned by the Roman De Angelis family, was realised. It is portrayed by the heraldic coat of arms engraved on the front of the lampshade fan and depicts ‘an angel in majesty […] on a terrace […], palm leaf […] on the right’. The coat of arms is stamped with a helmet bearing the tolerated crown of the Duke, surmounted by gold florins crowned with a pearl and supported by spikes, which is one of the fundamental ornaments of heraldry and indicates the degree of nobility attained.


Agnellini M. (a cura di), Argenti antichi italiani, Milano, Giorgio Mondadori & Associati, 1991, p. 144

Lipinsky A., Marchi dell’argenteria e oreficeria europee dal XVI al XIX secolo, Collana di arti decorative diretta da Gregorietti G., Novara, Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 1983, p. 107;

Mariacher G., Lampade e lampadari in Italia, Dal Quattrocento all’Ottocento, Milano, Garzanti Editore s.p.a., 1981.

Picture of Antiques, Art and Design

Antiques, Art and Design

FineArt is the new ambitious Di Mano in Mano project that offers an exclusive choice of antiques and design works, presenting them for their singularity and uniqueness.

Contact us for more information or to make an appointment
Call us or contact us on WhatsApp