Silver Aquamanile Lion

  • Unknown
  • 9 1/2 x 8 x 2 1/2 in.

Silver Aquamanile Lion

Quite possibly made in Lima for the community there of both overt and covert (Conversos and Marranos) Jews who settled there from the mid-sixteenth century until their final elimination by the Inquisition later in the eighteenth century. Alternately, it is equally possible that this lion was made for the Jewish community in the Netherlands from the seventeenth to the late eighteenth centuries. There are very few analogues for a silver aquamanile such as this, and none exactly comparabe in form and surface treatment, however, the face, placement and shape of the spout and split tail handle all point to an ultimate model from the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries in southern Germany before the Expulsion.

From the twelfth century until the sixteenth, similar anthro- and zoomorphic aquamanile cast primarily in bronze were part of the luxury utensils in European ecclesiastic and domestic ritual service, although silver examples are now exceedingly scarce, perhaps surviving more in those Jewish homes and synagogues where a good deal of discretion kept such treasures safely hidden. On this cf. Vivian B. Mann, “New” Examples of Jewish Ceremonial Art from Medieval Ashkenaz, artibus et historiae, nr. 17 (IX), Vienna,1988, pp. 13-24, and for lion forms p.16 and passim.