Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Spit Bracket

16th century
Spanish (?)
Overall: 15 3/4 x 10 x 18 in. (40 x 25.4 x 45.7 cm)
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1958
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 307
Although Spanish, particularly Catalan, iron working had reached a level of great artistry by the late Middle Ages, many ordinary household objects continued to be wrought in the traditional and less refined fashion, as is the case with this support for a spit (once part of a pair). It is amusing, however, and its maker demonstrated great inventiveness in transforming the scaly fins of its arched back into rings through which the spit could be inserted at gradual intervals.

If contemporary illustrations accurately reflect the normal operation of the roasting spit, it was the fate of some poor knave to sit by the fire, endlessly turning the spit, which was sometimes provided with a handle. By the fifteenth century, a number of more sophisticated mechanical devices had been devised. These included a series of disks set at an angle about the fire and driven in a circle by its heat, which, in turn, transmitted the rotary motion, through a series of cogged wheels, to the spit. This new “technology” did not, however, displace the traditional method of turning the spit by hand.
M. Perez ; [ L.P. Bresset et Fils, Paris (sold 1958)]
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. "The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages," March 28, 1975–June 15, 1975.

Husband, Timothy B., and Jane Hayward, ed. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. no. 19, pp. 33-34.

Callmann, Ellen. Beyond Nobility: Art for the Private Citizen in the Early Renaissance. Allentown, Pa.: Allentown Art Museum, 1980. no. 115, p. 108.

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