Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Basin (so-called Temperance Dish)

François Briot (French (1550–1615 or later))
(model), Montbéliard, late 16th century
D. 45 cm
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
The decorative program of basin and ewer shows the seven Liberal Arts and their patroness-goddess Minerva surrounding the medallion of the cardinal virtue of Temperance. Her central position is an appropriate allusion to the function of each object, as Temperance traditionally is represented as a woman pouring wine or water. Briot was one of the leading French medalists and silversmiths of his day, who had settled as a Protestant refugee in Montbéliard under the protection of the Huguenot Frederick, duke of Württemberg. The Temperance dishes to which the Lehman pieces belong are considered his most significant works and are dated to the end of the sixteenth century.(1) The ornamental design and figure style exhibit influences of prints by Étienne Delaune (ca. 1518/19 – 1583) and Aegidius Sadeler (1570 – 1629).(2) The popularity of Briot’s dish about 1600, particularly in Germany, is reflected in the number of casts, variations, and copies that are extant; for instance, the dish was copied in Nuremberg by Caspar Enderlein (1560 – 1633) in 1611,(3) and by Isaak Faust in Strasbourg about 1630.(4) Moreover, copies in silver, bronze, and Palissy earthenware are known.(5) Lessing discerned three different models of the Temperance dish, of which only the first is thought to be an original invention of Briot. Haedeke listed thirty-one casts of the dish (many of which include the ewer), but the Lehman piece is not included. A dish and ewer sold at Drouot, Paris, may be added to his compilation.(6) It is noteworthy that the word Arithmetiqva on the dish is not spelled in the usual Latin way as Arithmetica. The inscription IPMVM may be an owner’s monogram.

Catalogue entry from: Frits Scholten. The Robert Lehman Collection. European Sculpture and Metalwork, Vol. XII. Frits Scholten, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 234-235.

1. Berling, Karl. Altes Zinn: Ein Handbuch für Sammler und Liebhaber. Bibliothek für Kunst- und Antiquitätensammler 16. Berlin, 1919, pp. 74 – 77.
2. North, Anthony and Andrew Spira. Pewter at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1999, p. 19.
3. Lessing, Julius. "François Briot und Caspar Enderlein." Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen 10, no. 4, 1889, pp. 171 – 80; Beekhuizen, J.F.H.H. De schoonheid van het oude tin: Een overzicht van vijf eeuwen tin. ’s Hertogenbosch, 1998, pp. 149 – 51; North and Spira, no. 27.
4. Das Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, von der Vorbildersammlung zum Museum, 1876 – 1907. Exhibition, Albertinum, Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 13 December 1998 – 14 March 1999. Catalogue. Eurasburg and Dresden, 1998, no. 72.
5. Renaissance Bronzes from Ohio Collections. Exhibition, Cleveland Museum of Art, 24 September – 16 November 1975. Catalogue by William D. Wixom. Cleveland, 1975, no. 214; North and Spira, pp. 19, 20.
6. Sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25 February 1972, lot 85.
Schöller collection, Berlin; [Goldschmidt Galleries, New York]. Acquired by Philip Lehman through Goldschmidt Galleries in July 1930.
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