South Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304

This skillfully cast falcon, said to have been found in Italy in 1925, has been associated with the Hohenstaufen emperors, a Germanic dynasty ruling over much of what are now Germany and Italy. As symbols of their authority, they carried staffs surmounted by eagles, but the heavy copper alloy of this example suggests that it decorated a throne or other piece of furniture, such as the top of a tent pole. The falcon, which appears to be a specific type called a gerfalcon, suggests a link to Emperor Frederick II (r. 1215–50), who wrote the standard medieval treatise on the art of falconry, an aristocratic sport that he pursued avidly.

Falcon, Bronze, traces of gilding, South Italian

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