Aquamanile in the Form of Samson and the Lion

Date: ca. 1380–1400

Culture: Northern European (?), possibly German

Medium: Bronze; quaternary copper alloy (approx. 78% copper, approx. 10% zinc, approx. 6% tin, approx. 5% lead) with natural patina. Remnants of the iron armature are in the lion’s legs and the figure of Samson.

Dimensions: H. 34.1 cm, w. 14 cm, l. 38 cm, wt. 5332 g.

Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.1412


The bearded Samson is perched on the lion's back with his knee bent as he grasps the lion's jaws in his hands. He wears a tight, fitted jacket and hose with pointed shoes, the same fashionable costume of the fourteenth century seen on Aristotle in another aquamanile in the Museum's collection. The large lion does not convey the struggle with Samson by the position of its torso or legs, but the beast rotates its head nearly 180 degrees to confront his opponent. Like Samson's hair and beard, the lion's tufted mane is vigorously engraved. Somewhat later than the examples we have seen from the north German groups, this aquamanile is more difficult to localize with any precision.