New light on a Venetian lantern at the V&A
The carved and gilded wood lantern (Museum No. 7225–1860) was recognized as an extraordinary object even before its acquisition in 1860 from Jules Soulages of Toulouse, but its early history and function are uncertain. Based on the first detailed analysis of the lantern's structure, which show that it was made to be supported from below, the article explores the likely design sources used, and proposes that that it was made, probably c.1580–1620, for a Venetian galley, rather than for a domestic setting or land-based ceremonial use. The ownership of naval lanterns, their design and their use as symbols of authority and in signalling is reviewed. Some – albeit inconclusive – evidence supports the tradition that the lantern came from Palazzo Gradenigo.
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