On loan to The Met The Met accepts temporary loans of art both for short-term exhibitions and for long-term display in its galleries.

Aeolipile (Steamblower)

Southern German, Augsburg or Bohemian, Prague

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 520

Intended to be filled partway with water through an opening in the sphinx’s headpiece and then heated, this mysterious vessel releases pressurized steam through a pin-sized hole between her lips. If blown over glowing coals, the steam can create a flammable gas composed of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, so that the sculpture appears to spit fire just like the mythological sphinx. Artistically crafted aeolipiles served as display pieces and were used to distribute the heat of hearth fires.

Aeolipile (Steamblower), Bronze with dark patina, silver, Southern German, Augsburg or Bohemian, Prague

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