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Aquamanile in the Form of Samson and the Lion

Date:
ca. 1380–1400
Culture:
Northern European (?), possibly German
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.
Dimensions:
H. 34.1 cm, w. 14 cm, l. 38 cm, wt. 5332 g.
Classification:
Metalwork
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.1412
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 953
The bearded Samson is perched on the lion's back with his knee bent as he grasps the lion's jaws in his hands. He wears a tight, fitted jacket and hose with pointed shoes, the same fashionable costume of the fourteenth century seen on Aristotle in another aquamanile in the Museum's collection. The large lion does not convey the struggle with Samson by the position of its torso or legs, but the beast rotates its head nearly 180 degrees to confront his opponent. Like Samson's hair and beard, the lion's tufted mane is vigorously engraved. Somewhat later than the examples we have seen from the north German groups, this aquamanile is more difficult to localize with any precision.
Count Sergei Alexandrovich Stroganoff, Saint Petersburg; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York, 1912 – 13; [Duveen Brothers, New York]. Acquired by Philip Lehman through Duveen, along with No. 1 (1975.1.1410) and No. 6 (1975.1.1415), in February 1925.
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