National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Artistic Exchange: Europe and the Islamic World

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Probably English 13th Century
or
Scandinavian 13th Century
Aquamanile in the Form of a Horseman
13th century, bronze, 28.5 x 35.5 x 15.3 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Widener Collection
Image: Probably English or Scandinavian 13th Century
Aquamanile in the Form of a Horseman, 13th century
Widener Collection
1942.9.280

Aquamanilia are pitchers in the form of humans or animals that are used for liturgical or secular hand washing. They were first produced in western Europe during the twelfth century as a result of direct contact with more refined Islamic civilization during the Crusades. In the age before forks, the Muslim practice of hand washing before and after meals, would have impressed Europeans, as did the vessels they used in the process.

Mounted horsemen were a popular form. This rider wears the long coat of a falconer; probably a bird perched on his missing left arm. Falcons were first trained and used for hunting in the Islamic world.

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