Fountain, early 17th century
Cast and incised bronze; H. 38 7/16 in. (97.7 cm), W. 26 5/8 in. (67.6 cm), Diam. 36 11/16 in. (93.2 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1997 (1997.150)
This splendid fountain, the lush lotus shape of which reflects the organic nature of Deccani architectural forms and decoration, is a rare survivor of the monumental metalworking tradition known chiefly from cannons and from representations of objects in paintings. Once part of an early seventeenth-century palace garden, the fountain is a relic from a world that has almost entirely vanished. No Deccani garden of the sixteenth or seventeenth century has survived in anything approaching its original design or condition, and the palaces that would have shaped the configuration of adjacent landscaping have at best survived as tumbledown ruins. It is nonetheless likely that the fountain was one component in a complex scheme of numerous fountains complementing water channels.
A second fountain from the same garden exists in a private collection. Identical in technique and manufacture and sharing many of the decorative motifs of our piece, including a projecting stem at the base terminating in a lion, or kirttimukha, mask, the second fountain is basin shaped, as opposed to having the hourglass form seen here, concealing an internal pipe. The variation indicated by these two examples suggest that additional components were required to complete a larger design.