H. 4-13/16 in. (12.2 cm.); Gr. L. 5-3/8 in. (13.7 cm.)
The Hans Syz Collection, Gift of Stephan B. Syz and John D. Syz, 1995
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 533
In addition to the nucleus of Asian and European comparative ceramics, the Syz Collection includes porcelains from other Continental factories, including significant additions to our holdings of Viennese porcelain of the Du Paquier period. Unique in the porcelain it repertoire—and unmatched in invention and eccentricity—is this model of what has been called a chimera, but which only passingly resembles that mythical beast. Its inspiration is perhaps to be found in a type of medieval lion aquamanile in which the body is in profile but the head is frontal. Here the stylized chiseled mane of the lion has been transformed into a dramatically flowing beard, while the compositional tangle of the tail and the branches of the supporting tree trunk recall the aquamanile handle, formed from the lion's tail and a lizardlike creature. This association is not as unlikely as it may seem, being reinforced by a Viennese porcelain chocolate pot of 1744–49 copied exactly from a twelfth-century griffin aquamanile now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and at the time presumably in the imperial collections.
Dr. Paul von Ostermann (until 1928; sale, Cassirer and Helbing, Berlin, October 30– November 2, 1928, no. 378); Hans Syz