Aquamanile in the Form of a Lion

Date: ca. 1400

Geography: Made in Nuremberg

Culture: German

Medium: Copper alloy

Dimensions: Overall: 13 1/8 x 13 3/8 x 4 3/4 in., 11.764lb. (33.3 x 34 x 12.1 cm, 5336g)
Overall PD: 12 9/16 x 4 5/8 x 12 1/2 in. (31.9 x 11.8 x 31.8 cm)
Thickness PD: 3/50-7/50 in. (0.16-0.35 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Copper alloy

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1994

Accession Number: 1994.244


The imposing presence of this lion aquamanile, especially when seen in profile, is generated by its large scale, erect stance, curling tail with flamelike tufts of hair, and expressive face. The jaws are opened wide to reveal sharp teeth and a protruding tongue; the brows arch dramatically and the nostrils flare. The dragon that forms the vessel's handle turns its head to the right with a threatening open mouth, further animating the work. The surface is embellished with skillfully engraved lines in the tufts covering the lion's swelling chest. The vessel was filled through the square opening at the top of the lion's head, and water was poured through a spigot that protruded from the chest. The lion is part of a cohesive group of so-called flame-tailed aquamanilia that have been convincingly shown to have been made in Nuremberg.