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Sigismond Bardac, Paris, before 1913, as French, fourteenth century;[1] (Arnold Seligmann), 1913(?)-1916; purchased 22 April 1916 by Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, as French, twelfth century; inheritance from the Estate of Peter A. B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, after purchase by funds of the Estate, 1942.

Exhibition History

Exhibition of Arts of the Middle Ages, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1940, 80, no. 283, as French or Mosan, twelfth century.
Artful Deception: The Craft of the Forger, Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1987-1988, no cat.
Lions, Dragons, and Other Beasts: Aquamanila of the Middle Ages, Vessels for Church and Table, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New York, 2006, no. 3, repro.

Technical Summary

A hinged lid atop the lion's head opens to allow filling with water, which would have been poured out at the mouth.

The object, of a dark brown bronze alloy, is generally in good condition. The gilding is worn, especially on smooth surfaces such as the haunches. It adheres best in grooved, patterned areas. There is a dent in the left hind haunch.

X-ray fluorescence analysis of the surface indicates that the alloy is approximately 95 percent copper, 2 percent tin, and 1 percent lead, with traces of silver, iron, and antimony.[1] This alloy is consistent with medieval production. The presence of mercury in a gilded area indicates the use of fire-gilding. The gray repair on the left hind haunch appears to be a lead-tin solder.

[1] Report 17 March 1987, in NGA conservation laboratory files.


Leman, Henri. Collection Sigismond Bardac. Faiences italiennes du XV siècle, objets de haute curiosité, Moyen Age et Renaissance. Paris, 1913: no. 33.
Falke, Otto von, and Erich Meyer. Bronzegeräte des Mittelalters I. Romanische Leuchter und Gefässe; Giessgefässe der Gotik. Berlin, 1935: 62, 110, no. 374, repro. 352 (reprint, Berlin, 1983: 62, 154, fig. 352).
Inventory of the Objects d'Art at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, The Estate of the Late P.A.B. Widener. Philadelphia, 1935: 31.
Works of Art from the Widener Collection. Foreword by David Finley and John Walker. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 9, as French 12th Century.
Seymour, Charles. Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1949: 11, 171, note 2, repro. 28, 30.
Christensen, Erwin O. Objects of Medieval Art from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952: 20-22, 30.
Mende, Ursula. Die Türzieher des Mittelalters. Berlin, 1981: 55, fig. 362.
Distelberger, Rudolf, Alison Luchs, Philippe Verdier, and Timonthy H. Wilson. Western Decorative Arts, Part I: Medieval, Renaissance, and Historicizing Styles including Metalwork, Enamels, and Ceramics. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1993: 25-28, color repro. 26.
George, Philippe. Art et patrimoine en Wallonie des origines à 1789: Essai de synthèse à la lumière des collections américaines et européennes. Namur, 2017: 165, fig. 233.

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