Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Aquamanile in the Form of a Lion

ca. 1230 or early nineteenth century
North German, Lubeck (?)
Bronze; binary copper alloy (approx. 88% copper, approx. 8% tin) hollow cast, chased, engraved, and gilded.
H. 20.7 cm, w. 12.4 cm, l. 25.3 cm, wt. 2867 g.
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 958
An aquamanile, from the Latin words for water (aqua) and hand (manus), is a vessel used in the ritual of hand washing in both religious and secular contexts—by the priest before Mass and in a private household before a meal. Surviving medieval examples were cast in copper alloy in the form of animals or figures. This crouching lion may have been made in Germany in the early thirteenth century, although some technical aspects point to a much later date. Thus, it may be an example of a medieval revival piece from northern Germany dating to the early nineteenth century.
O. Lembke, Wismar, by 1817; [sold by Lembke to an unidentified Dutch art dealer in 1882]; Baron Albert Freiherr von Oppenheim (1834 – 1912), Cologne, by 1897, until 1912; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York, 1912 – 13; [Duveen Brothers, New York]. Acquired by Philip Lehman through Duveen, along with (1975.1.1412) and (1975.1.1415), in February 1925.
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