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Samson and Lion Aquamanile

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Pouring vessel in the shape of Samson battling the lion with the lion's tail arranged as a handle, an aperture for filling in the top of Samson's head, and a spout in the shape of a beast head below the lion's left ear. Cast in one piece, chased and punched. Represented at the moment he springs...

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Probably by 1470, parish church of Oberachern, Germany; 1881, sold by the church to a private collector (?) [see note 1]. By 1888, Albert Figdor (b. 1843 - d. 1927), Vienna [see note 2]; September 29, 1930, posthumous Figdor sale, Cassirer, Berlin, lot 514, to the Brummer Gallery, New York (stock no. H99) and Dr. Jacob Hirsch, New York, for 106,000 M [see note 3]; 1940, sold by Brummer and Hirsch to the MFA for $42,000. (Accession Date: May 9, 1940) NOTES: [1] This may be the aquamanile mentioned in a document (May 7, 1470) as having been given by Johanns von Bergazbern (b. 1447 - d. 1475) to his church at Oberachern. See K. Reinfried, "Kleinere Mitteilungen," Freiburger Diöcesan-Archiv 21 (1890): 303-307, where the aquamanile is said to have been sold in 1881 to a "princely cabinet of rarities" -- whether this refers to Figdor's collection is not known. Curt Engel, "Fusswaschung seit fünf Jahrhunderten," (Source unknown; copy, from a German newspaper, in MFA curatorial file), April 19/20, 1973, states that it went to Frankfurt before entering the Figdor collection. Whether it went to Figdor through a Frankfurt dealer is not specified. [2] Jakob von Falke, Geschichte des Deutschen Kunstgewerbes (Berlin, 1888), 56, fig. 16. [3] The sale results were published by Jakob Rosenberg, "Die Berliner Versteigerung Figdor," Kunst und Künstler 29 (November, 1930): 86-87. On Brummer's inventory card, the object is said to be "in half ownership with Dr. Hirsch."

Credit Line

Benjamin Shelton Fund

Northern German (possibly Schleswig-Holstein), Medieval (Gothic), late 13th–early 14th century


34 x 36.8 x 11.4 cm (13 3/8 x 14 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Leaded latten (81.7% copper, 9.9% tin, 7% lead, 1.4% zinc)