Aquamanile in the Form of a Lion

Date: ca. 1200

Culture: North German

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: Overall: 9 1/8 x 8 15/16 x 3 3/4 in. (23.2 x 22.7 x 9.5 cm)
Thickness PD: 3/50-1/10 in. (0.15-0.25 cm)
Weight PD: 84.3oz. (2391g)

Classification: Metalwork-Copper alloy

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Leo S. Bing, 1952

Accession Number: 52.24.1


This aquamanile is distinguished by the turned head of the lion, which faces to the right as it grasps the neck of the dragon handle between its jaws. The dragon here serves as both handle and spout. As with most aquamanilia, a square opening in the top of the lion's head covered by a hinged lid allowed the vessel to be filled with water. This aquamanile can be seen in the context of a group of cast objects created in north Germany about the middle of the twelfth century and later. The origins of the group can be seen in the bronze doors of Novgorod Cathedral created in Magdeburg (Saxony) about 1152–54. The lions masks of the Novgorod doors exhibit heavy, arched eyebrows and extensive engraving around the eyes similar to the treatment of the face on this aquamanile.