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

Aquamanile in the Form of a Unicorn

Date:
ca. 1425–50
Geography:
Made in Nuremberg, Germany
Culture:
German
Medium:
Copper alloy
Dimensions:
Overall (to tip of horn): 15 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 4 7/16 in. (39.4 x 29.2 x 11.3 cm) Weight PD: 108.8oz. (3085g)
Classification:
Metalwork-Copper alloy
Credit Line:
Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964
Accession Number:
64.101.1493
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 17
The aquamanile takes its name from the Latin words for water (aqua) and hand (manus), as it was intended for hand washing at table. Poured through a flap at the top, the water was later dispensed through the spigot in the unicorn’s chest. The flame-like tail is typical of aquamanilia cast in Nuremberg. Residents of the city were enthralled by unicorns, emblazoning their coats of arms with images of the beast. Nuremberg officials, however, sensibly decided against the purchase of a unicorn offered by the distinguished humanist scholar and physician Johannes Sambucus in the mid sixteenth century. The horn of the unicorn on this aquamanile has been replaced.
Irwin Untermyer, New York (until 1964)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Arts of the Middle Ages: A Loan Exhibition," February 17, 1940–March 24, 1940.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gothic and Renaissance art in Nuremberg, 1350–1550," April 8, 1986–June 22, 1986.

Nuremberg, Germany. Germanisches Nationalmuseum. "Gothic and Renaissance art in Nuremberg, 1350–1550," July 24, 1986–September 28, 1986.

New York. Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture. "Lions, Dragons, and Other Beasts: Aquamanilia of the Middle Ages. Vessels for Church and Table," July 12, 2006–October 15, 2006.

New York. American Museum of Natural History. "Mythic Creatures," May 26, 2007–January 6, 2008.

Arts of the Middle Ages: A Loan Exhibition. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1940. no. 293, p. 83.

Gómez-Moreno, Carmen. Medieval Art from Private Collections: A Special Exhibition at The Cloisters, October 30, 1968 through January 5, 1969. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1968. no. 109.

Meckseper, Cord, ed. Stadt im Wandel: Kunst und Kultur des Bürgertums in Norddeutschland, 1150–1650. Ausstellungskatalog. Vol. 2. Braunschweig: Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum, 1985. p. 860.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Germanisches National Museum, Nürnberg. Gothic and Renaissance Art in Nuremberg 1300-1500. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986. no. 21, pp. 140-41.

Schrader, J. L. "A Medieval Bestiary." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 44, no. 1 (Summer 1986). p. 17.

Benton, Janetta Rebold, ed. Medieval Monsters: Dragons and Fantastic Creatures. Katonah: Katonah Museum of Art, 1995. pp. 10–11, 36, fig. 12.

Wixom, William D. "Medieval Sculpture at the Metropolitan: 800 to 1400." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 62, no. 4 (2005). p. 41.

Barnet, Peter, and Pete Dandridge, ed. Lions, Dragons, & Other Beasts: Aquamanilia of the Middle Ages, Vessels for Church and Table. New York: Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, 2006. no. 25, pp. 158-161.

Dandridge, Pete. "Exquisite Objects, Prodigious Technique: Aquamanilia, Vessels of the Middle Ages." In Lions, Dragons, & Other Beasts: Aquamanilia of the Middle Ages, Vessels for Church and Table, edited by Peter Barnet, and Pete Dandridge. New York: Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, 2006. no. 25, pp. 38, 43, 50, 54-56; p. 38, no. 20; p. 48, no. 49, Appears in Table 1 of chapter.

Mende, Ursula. "Late Gothic Aquamanilia from Nuremberg." In Lions, Dragons, & Other Beasts: Aquamanilia of the Middle Ages, Vessels for Church and Table, edited by Peter Barnet, and Pete Dandridge. New York: Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, 2006. no. 25, p. 30.

Mende, Ursula. Die mittelalterlichen Bronzen im Germanischen Nationalmuseum: Bestandskatalog. Nuremberg: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, 2013. p. 218 n. 4.



Related Objects

Aquamanile in the Form of a Horse

Date: ca. 1400 Medium: Copper alloy Accession: 10.13.4a On view in:Gallery 306

Aquamanile in the Form of a Horse

Date: first half 15th century Medium: Copper alloy Accession: 52.24.2 On view in:Gallery 306

Lion mask door pull

Date: ca. 1425–50 Medium: Copper alloy Accession: 2007.20 On view in:Gallery 306

Aquamanile in the Form of a Mounted Knight

Date: ca. 1250 Medium: Copper alloy Accession: 64.101.1492 On view in:Gallery 304

Double Cup

Artist: Mattheus Epfenhauser (German) Date: 1574/1575 Medium: Silver gilt, silver medallions Accession: 17.190.607a, b On view in:Gallery 306