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Subject: Art History- (Pick a title of exhibition) - Research Paper Example

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In the past, it was an important form of cutlery art, and usually contained water for washing hands over a basin (Barnet et al. 2006). Customary hand washing during meals was…
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ART HISTORY-AQUAMANILE ART Introduction An aquamanile is a pot or jug-type vessel that takes up the form of one or more animal orhuman contour. In the past, it was an important form of cutlery art, and usually contained water for washing hands over a basin (Barnet et al. 2006). Customary hand washing during meals was essential because the most of the people in the middle ages used only their hands for eating and it was quite messy. This method of cleaning hands was characteristic of both upper-class meals and the Christian Holy Communion. Historically the term was occasionally used for any figure of basin or pottery so used, regardless of shape. Those made in the shape of an animal are among the most distinctive products of medieval artisans (Wixom and Phillipe 2005). The most commonly seen zoomorphic aquamaniles are lions, but dragons, griffins, and many other forms were also produced. Most surviving examples are in metal, normally copper alloys as pottery versions have rarely survived (Barnet et al. 2006).
The above aquamanile is in the form of a knight on a horse. It would be toped up with water through the top of the riders head covering, and poured out through the spout on the forehead of the horse. This aquamanile, which is in the form of a horse and rider, represent the courtly ideals of knighthood that spread through Western medieval culture and influenced objects intended for daily use. It depicts a type of armor that disappeared toward the third quarter of the thirteenth century (York and Scholten 2011). Regrettably, the shield, which probably displayed the arms of the owner and the lance, are no longer intact.
The theme of this celebrated example is the upright legend of Aristotle and Phyllis, which achieved remarkable popularity in the later part of the middle ages (York and Scholten 2011). The vulgar nature suggests that this aquamanile was designed for a domestic setting, where it would have served either as a water container or also as an object of entertainment for guests at the table.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle, who was also the teacher of Alexander the Great, allowed disgrace to himself through the sly Phyllis as an example to the inexperienced ruler, who had yielded in on her deceit and deserted the affairs of state. Giving a chance Alexander to view his idiocy, Aristotle made it clear that if an old man as himself could be so gullible, then the probable cost for a young man was more dangerous (Barnet et al. 2006).


A carefully structured, naturalistic sculpture in the round, this ewer, like a slightly earlier dragon aquamanile in the collection, was sculptured using the lost wax process. Surface details were then expertly impressed in the cold metal. The vessel was filled through a covered opening hidden between the rows of tail feathers, and water was poured out through the cock’s open beak. Although the bird is not without religious implication; most notably in the story of Saint Peters denial of Jesus, it seems highly possible that this aquamanile served a secular purpose. The cock was a trendy character in such twelfth-century literature as the story of Renart the Fox and is perhaps famous today from Chanticleer, the rooster in Chaucers fourteenth century "The Nuns Priests Tale."

The crowned centaur is probably Chiron, the king of the centaurs, brandishing a sword in his right hand, appears about to kill the dragon attacking his left side. This outstanding work of art represents an incredible beast; the dragon whose head and neck, seized in the soldier’s left hand, form the spout (Barnet et al. 2006) additionally supplements the form here. Provenance of this particular aquamanile finds attribution to Böhler Kunsthandlung, Munich and was sold in 1910.
This remarkable vessel symbolizes a dragon, which is held up by its front limbs and on the tips of its wings behind, with a tail that tresses up into a handle. It was filled through an opening in the tail, now missing its hinged cover. Water flowed out through the formed by the hooded figure held between the dragons teeth. In addition to its visual power, this aquamanile is distinguished by fine artisanship, visible in the carefully sculpt dragons scales and other surface details.
 Barnet, Peter, and Pete Dandridge. Lions, dragons, & other beasts: aquamanilia of the Middle Ages, vessels for church and table. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
Wixom, William D., and Philippe Montebello. Medieval sculpture at the Metropolitan: 800 to 1400. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005.
York, N.Y., and Frits Scholten. European sculpture and metalwork. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art ;, 2011. Read More
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