National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Aquamanile in the Form of a Horseman Probably English or Scandinavian 13th Century
English 13th Century (artist)
Scandinavian 13th Century (artist)
Aquamanile in the Form of a Horseman, 13th century
bronze
overall: 28.5 x 35.5 x 15.3 cm (11 1/4 x 14 x 6 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.280
On View
From the Tour: Medieval Metalwork and Enamels
Object 5 of 8

Conservation Notes

The whole surface, including the handle, is battered and nicked. The rider's left arm is missing, with a socket remaining where it was apparently once attached, possibly with a dowel. His head is partly detached from the neck. Longer reins, whose ends are broken off along the sides of the horse's neck, were apparently once connected to a bridle. The tail and part of the hobblelike band on the right hind leg are also broken off. The left front and hind legs are replacements.[1] A roughly square patch is on the horse's upper belly, with solder visible along two edges.

X-ray fluorescence analysis indicates virtually identical composition for the body of the horse and the handle: a leaded tin bronze of about 80 percent copper, 10 to 11 percent tin, and about 10 percent lead, with small amounts of silver, antimony, and iron.[2] This alloy is consistent with medieval production. The gray patch visible around a small puncture on the horse's left haunch and repairs at the man's neck appear to be made of lead-tin solders of differing compositions; the discrepancies may indicate repairs at different periods.

The bronze that plugs the circular hole on the horse's chest has a composition consistent with production at the same time as the rest of the object. Such plugs, typical of hollow-cast aquamanilia, were part of the casting process, and do not necessarily indicate later closing up of a former pour-spout. The present form indicates liquid was poured in through the top of the rider's head and out through the horse's mouth.


[1] The left front leg, more silvery in color than the body, is joined to it with a pin and solder; its alloy, different from that of the body, is brass, composed of 89 percent copper, 9 percent zinc, and small amounts of iron, silver, antimony, and tin (report cited in note 2). The right front foot, grayish in color, thin, and curved inward, also appears to be a replacement.
[2] Report of 2 March 1987, in NGA conservation laboratory files.

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Artist Information (English 13th Century)
Artist Information (Scandinavian 13th Century)
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