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Spout of a fountain

Spout of a fountain

  • Place of origin:

    Lucca (town) (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1490-1520 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze, cast

  • Museum number:

    7391-1860

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 50a, The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery, case WN

This spout comes from the Ducal Palace at Lucca and would probably have formed part of a wall fountain.

The Renaissance was a period which saw great innovations in the use of bronze for sculpture. The metal was used for the production of a range of practical objects such as candlesticks, inkstands, snuffers, bells and lanterns as well as purely decorative objects such as statuettes. In the present object the decorative and practical meet. Perhaps fed from a cistern above, the mask and pipe channelled water to fall clear of a wall, probably into a basin below.
Many surviving Renaissance bronze sculptures deliberately reference classical motifs and the coupling of a lion and grotesque serpent on the present water spout, brings together two decorative elements associated with Roman antiquity. The spout is unlikely to be the work of a single artist. Those involved in the production of the piece: the designer, the modeller, the founder and finisher could all have been separate individuals.

Physical description

Bronze spout for a fountain with lion's head mask, from which issues the tubular spout terminating in a dragon's head.

Place of Origin

Lucca (town) (made)

Date

ca. 1490-1520 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Bronze, cast

Dimensions

Depth: 46 cm, Diameter: 33.5 in

Object history note

From the Ducal Palace at Lucca, Italy.

Historical context note

In 1322 Castruccio Castracani degli Antelminelli, Lord of Lucca, instructed Giotto to design a fortress called the Augusta. In 1369 having been subjected to seven consecutive foreign rulers, the Lucchesi pulled down the walls of the Augusta - leaving only the buildings which constituted the Palazzo Ducale. Castruccio had created the Palazzo by buying up properties surrounding the Cortile degli Svizzeri. One of the first properties he purchased had a small internal courtyard with a well. Before 1517 a further property had been added to the palace complex, which had a small garden attached - this garden became the Cortile Carrara. At the time this spout was used in the palace it could have been placed in any one of those three courtyard spaces.

The Renaissance was a period which saw great innovations in the use of bronze for sculpture. The metal was used for the production of a range of practical objects such as candlesticks, inkstands, snuffers, bells and lanterns as well as purely decorative objects such as statuettes. In the present object the decorative and practical meet. Perhaps fed from a cistern above, the mask and pipe channelled water to fall clear of a wall, probably into a basin below.
Many surviving Renaissance bronze sculptures deliberately reference classical motifs and the coupling of a lion and grotesque serpent on the present water spout, brings together two decorative elements associated with Roman antiquity. The spout is unlikely to be the work of a single artist. Those involved in the production of the piece: the designer, the modeller, the founder and finisher could all have been separate individuals.

Piping water through a sculpted lion's mouth has a long tradition in western art. Two Greco-Roman eamples of bronze lion mask waterspouts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1874-76 (74.51.5677-5678) date from 100 BC to 100AD. An example of a Tuscan lion's head spout, from slightly earlier than the present example can be seen feeding water to a basin in a pietra serena wall fountain in the court of the Palazzo Orlandini, now the property of the Banca de Monte dei Paschi.

Descriptive line

Fountain spout / jet, bronze, Italian, from the Ducal Palace at Lucca, ca.1490-1520

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Morolli. G Percorsi nel Palazzo Pubblico di Lucca – tempi, forme, strutture (Maria Pacini Fazzi, Lucca, 2002)
Maskell, W. South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks - Bronzes (London 1877) Illus. p.18
Radcliffe, A. Art of the Renaissance Bronze 1500-1650 (London, Phillip Wilson, 2004)
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1860. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 20
Drury, C. and Fortnum, E., A Descriptive Catalogue of the Bronzes European Origin in the South Kensington Museum, London 1876, pp.132-133
Warren, Jeremy, with contributions from Kim, S. and Kosinova, A., The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Italian Sculpture, Vol. 1, London, 2016, p.84, fig. 15.1

Labels and date

SPOUT OF A FOUNTAIN
Bronze
ITALIAN (Tuscany); about 1490-1520
7391-1860

From the Ducal Palace at Lucca, the spout would probably have formed part of a wall fountain. [1996]

Materials

Bronze

Techniques

Casting

Subjects depicted

Dragons; Lions (animals)

Categories

Sculpture; Metalwork

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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