Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Aquamanile in the Form of Aristotle and Phyllis

Date:
late 14th or early 15th century
Culture:
South Netherlandish
Medium:
Bronze; Quaternary copper alloy (approx. 72% copper, approx. 17% zinc, approx. 6% lead, approx. 3% tin).
Dimensions:
H. 32.5 cm, w. 17.9 cm, l. 39.3 cm, wt. 6062 g.
Classification:
Metalwork-Bronze
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.1416
Not on view
An aquamanile is a vessel for pouring water used in the ritual of washing hands in both religious and secular contexts—by the priest before Mass and in a private household before a meal. The subject of this celebrated example is the moralizing legend of Aristotle and Phyllis, which achieved popularity in the late Middle Ages. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and tutor of Alexander the Great, allowed himself to be humiliated by the seductive Phyllis as a lesson to the young ruler, who had succumbed to her wiles and neglected the affairs of state. Encouraging Alexander to witness his folly, Aristotle explained that if he, an old man, could be so easily deceived, the potential consequences for a young man were even more perilous. The ribald subject indicates that this aquamanile was made for a domestic setting, where it would have doubled as an object of entertainment for guests at the table.
Related Objects

Aquamanile in the Form of Samson and the Lion

Date: ca. 1380–1400 Medium: Bronze; quaternary copper alloy (approx. 78% copper, approx. 10% zinc, approx. 6% tin, approx. 5% lead) with natural patina. Remnants of the iron armature are in the lion’s legs and the figure of Samson. Accession: 1975.1.1412 On view in:Not on view

Aquamanile in the Form of a Gourd with a Human Head

Date: 19th century Medium: Bronze; quaternary copper alloy (62.8% copper, 18.3% lead; 11.9% zinc, 7% tin); with a thin layer of dark patina. Accession: 1975.1.1414 On view in:Not on view

Aquamanile in the Form of a Knight on Horseback

Date: ca. 1350 Medium: Bronze; Quaternary copper alloy with a high content of zinc (approx. 73% copper, approx. 15% zinc, approx. 7% lead, approx. 3% tin) with natural patina, hollow cast; remnants of the clay core and iron armature in the legs Accession: 1975.1.1409 On view in:Not on view

Aquamanile in the Form of a Griffin

Date: ca. 1425–50 Medium: Bronze; Ternary copper alloy with a very high content of zinc (approx. 74% copper, approx. 22% zinc, approx. 2% lead) with natural patina, hollow cast. Accession: 1975.1.1413 On view in:Not on view

Aquamanile in the Form of a Human Head

Date: last quarter 19th century Medium: Bronze; Ternary copper alloy with a very high percentage of zinc (approx. 68% copper, approx. 26% zinc, approx. 4% tin), covered with a thin black lacquer patina; traces of cinnabar have been detected on the interior and exterior of the vessel. Accession: 1975.1.1415 On view in:Not on view