Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Aquamanile in the Form of a Dragon

Date:
ca. 1200
Culture:
North German
Medium:
Copper alloy
Dimensions:
Overall: 8 3/4 x 7 1/4 in., 4365.108lb. (22.2 x 18.4 cm, 1980kg) Overall PD: 8 3/8 x 4 3/8 x 7 3/16 in. (21.2 x 11.1 x 18.2 cm) Thickness PD: 3/25 in. (0.3 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Copper alloy
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1947
Accession Number:
47.101.51
On view at The Met Cloisters in Gallery 10
Aquamaniles, which are water vessels used for washing hands, served both liturgical and secular purposes. Those made in the shape of an animal are among the most distinctive products of medieval craftsmen. The most commonly seen zoomorphic aquamaniles are lions, but dragons, griffins, and many other forms were also produced (see acc. nos. 47.101.51, 1994.244).

This striking vessel represents a dragon, which is supported by its legs in front and on the tips of its wings behind, with a tail that curls up into a handle. It was filled through an opening in the tail, now missing its hinged cover. Water was poured out through the spout formed by the hooded or cowled figure held between the dragon's teeth. In addition to its visual power, this aquamanile is distinguished by fine casting, visible in the carefully chased dragon's scales and other surface details.
Hubert de Pourtalès, Château Martinvast, Normandy (sold 1936) ; [ Brummer Gallery(1936, through Guiraud Frères–sold 1947)]
Arts of the Middle Ages: A Loan Exhibition, February 17 to March 24, 1940. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1940. no. 284, p. 80, pl. XXXII.

Rorimer, James J. "A Treasury at the Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 6, no. 9 (May 1948). p. 252.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1952. no. 44, pp. 54, 221.

Hoffmann, Konrad, ed. The Year 1200: A Centennial Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 1. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1970. no. 121, pp. 116-117.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983. no. 16, p. 366.

Schrader, J. L. "A Medieval Bestiary." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 44, no. 1 (Summer 1986). p. 45.

Pushkin Museum and State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-prikladnoe iskusstvo ot pozdneĭ antichnosti do pozdneĭ gotiki: Iz sobraniĭ muze︠i︡a Metropoliten, Nʹ︠i︡u Ĭork i Khudozhestvennogo Instituta, Chikago. Moscow: Pushkin Museum, 1990. no. 25, pp. 11, 22, fig. 25.

State Hermitage Museum. Dekorativno-prikladnoe iskusstvo ot pozdneĭ antichnosti do pozdneĭ gotiki. St. Petersburg: State Hermitage Museum, 1990. no. 25, pp. 56-57.

Benton, Janetta Rebold. The Medieval Menagerie: Animals in the Art of the Middle Ages. New York: Abbeville Press, 1992. p. 42, fig. 32.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 16, p. 400.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. no. 71, pp. 107, 196.

Barnet, Peter. "'Beasts of Every Land and Clime': An Introduction to Medieval Aquamanilia." 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. 6, p. 5.

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. 6, pp. 88-91.

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. 6, pp. 40, 49-50, 54-56, fig. 3-19, Appears in Table 1 of chapter.

Newman, Richard. "Analysis of Core and Investment Samples from Some Aquamanilia." 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. 6, pp. 57, 62-63, Featured in Table 1 and Table 2 of chapter.

Brandt, Michael, ed. Bild und Bestie: Hildesheimer Bronzen der Stauferzeit. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2008. no. 42, pp. 346-348.

Dandridge, Pete. "Gegossene Phantasien: Mittelalterliche Aquamanilien und ihre Herstellung." In Bild und Bestie: Hildesheimer Bronzen der Stauferzeit, edited by Michael Brandt. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2008. no. 42, pp. 83, 85, 95.

Barnet, Peter, and Nancy Y. Wu. The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture. 75th Anniversary ed. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 110.

Mende, Ursula. Die mittelalterlichen Bronzen im Germanischen Nationalmuseum: Bestandskatalog. Nuremberg: Germanisches Nationalmuseum, 2013. p. 172.



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