Derived from the Latin words for water (aqua) and hand (manus), an aquamanile (plural: aquamanilia) is an animal- or human-shaped water vessel used in hand washing, an essential component of religious and secular rituals in the Middle Ages. Aquamanilia were the first cast vessels of medieval Europe. Usually cast in copper alloy through the lostwax process (cire perdue), the hundreds of surviving examples date from the twelfth through fifteenth century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has one of the most important collections of aquamanilia in the world, with examples at The Cloisters and in the main building on Fifth Avenue, in both the medieval galleries and the Lehman Collection.
Although compromised by the loss of the horse’s hooves and by significant wear to the surface, this aquamanile in the form of a youthful falconer remains a striking work. The left hand originally supported a falcon.
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Title:Aquamanile in the Form of a Falconer on Horseback
Geography:Made in Lower Saxony
Dimensions:Overall: 13 11/16 x 11 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (34.7 x 28.5 x 12 cm), 8.554lb. (3880g) Thickness PD: 1/10-7/50 in. (0.25-0.35 cm)
Credit Line:The Cloisters Collection, 1947
Hubert de Pourtalès, Château Martinvast, Normandy (sold 1936) ; [ Brummer Gallery (1936, through Guiraud Frères–sold 1947)]
Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums. "The Horse: Its Significance in Art," April 20–May 21, 1938.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Arts of the Middle Ages: A Loan Exhibition," February 17–March 24, 1940.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. "1964 New York World's Fair," April 22–October 17, 1965.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "The Middle Ages: Treasures from The Cloisters and The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 18, 1970–March 29, 1970.
Chicago. Art Institute of Chicago. "The Middle Ages: Treasures from The Cloisters and The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 16, 1970–July 5, 1970.
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.
Hildesheim, Germany. Dom-Museum Hildesheim (Cathedral Museum). "Bild und Bestie : Hildesheimer Bronzen der Stauferzeit," May 31, 2008–October 5, 2008.
Fogg Museum of Art. The Horse: Its Significance in Art. Boston: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1938. no. 22, p. 25.
American Federation of Arts. "Activity: News of the Several Arts and of Federation Chapters." Magazine of Art 31, no. 5 (May 1938). pp. 306–7, ill. p. 302.
Arts of the Middle Ages: A Loan Exhibition. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1940. no. 292, p. 82.
Rorimer, James J. "A Treasury at the Cloisters." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 6, no. 9 (May 1948). p. 253.
Randall Jr., Richard H. A Cloisters Bestiary. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1960. p. 25.
Time-Life Books. Official Guide: New York World's Fair, 1964-1965. New York: Time, Inc., 1964. pp. 260–61.
Ostoia, Vera K. The Middle Ages: Treasures from the Cloisters and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969. no. 57, pp. 126–27, 257.
Bloch, Peter. Aquamanilien: mittelalteriche Bronzen für sakralen und profanen Gebrauc. Geneva: Weber, 1981. no. 34, unpaginated.
Bloch, Peter. Aquamaniles: Objets Sacrés et Profanes du Moyen Age. Milan: Franco Maria Ricci, 1982. no. 34, pp. 15, 19.
Distelberger, Rudolf, Alison Luchs, Philippe Verdier, and Timothy Wilson. Western Decorative Arts: Part I, Medieval, Renaissance and Historicizing Styles Including Metalwork, Enamels and Ceramics. Collections of the National Gallery of Art, Systematic Catalogue. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1995. p. 31, n. 4.
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. 10, p. 6.
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. 10, pp. 102–105.
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. 10, pp. 38, 40–42, 54–56, fig. 3–3, 3-4, Appears in Table 1 of chapter.
Brandt, Michael, ed. Bild und Bestie: Hildesheimer Bronzen der Stauferzeit. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2008. no. 30, pp. 312–313.
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