Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Heavy Mettle

Finally, a feline my boyfriend might appreciate: an early 13th-century brass aquamanile in the form of a courageous lion with a finely engraved main and decorative details. The handle of the vessel takes the form of a dragon (to ward off evil) and though its got a few later pieces added and some old repairs, its still expected to fetch 80,000—120,000 euros (about $112,000 to $168,000) at Sotheby's Amsterdam sale later this month. The aquamanile is North German, probably from Brunswick, and comes from the collection of Cologne-based banker and art collector Dr. Richard von Schnitzler

Aquamaniles were designed to hold water for hand-washing and were originally used in the church, though by the late 12the-century they were often found in houses of the nobility. Water is poured into a hinged opening at the lions back and then issues from the lion's mouth.

They can be found in museum collections around the world, but none can top the example purchased by Varya and Hans Cohn and given to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992. Its the absolute finest example.

Northern Germany, Lower Saxony, Hildeshiem (?)
Aquamanile (Ewer), circa 1250
Metalwork, Brass (copper alloy)
10 1/2 x 11 7/8 x 3 7/8 in. (26.67 x 30.16 x 9.84 cm)
Gift of Varya and Hans Cohn (AC1992.152.100)