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  • Place of origin:

    Flanders (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, with one spout restored in lead

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The lavabo or hanging laver gradually displaced the ewer in many households as a means of dispensing water for washing hands. The basic shape of the body was usually that of a flattened sphere. The rim, the spouts and the junctions of the loop handle with the body were opportunities for the craftsman to demonstrate his artistic skills. It is not uncommon to find a human bust concealing the join.

Occasionally lavabos were made with a single spout. This example is of the more common type, with two spouts placed between the supports for the handle, although one of the spouts is missing. The end of the surviving spout is shaped like the head and open jaws of some fabulous creature – a design motif that was common also in ewers. The source of this motif remains obscure but it remained popular for a long time and was still being used to embellish teapots and coffee pots until the late 18th century.

Physical description

Rounded body with crenelated lip; two curved spouts set opposite one another, and cusped swing handle fitting into two lugs in the form of female busts.

Place of Origin

Flanders (made)


15th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Brass, with one spout restored in lead


Height: 6.75 in, Width: 12 in

Descriptive line

Brass laver with indented lip, two spouts and lugs in the form of female busts, Flemish, 15th century



Subjects depicted





Metalwork Collection

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