The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of April 27, 2018

Table Fountain, c. 1320-1340

gilt-silver and translucent enamels, Overall: 33.8 x 25.4 x 26 cm (13 1/4 x 10 x 10 3/16 in.); Overall: 31.1 x 24.1 x 26 cm (12 3/16 x 9 7/16 x 10 3/16 in.). Gift of J. H. Wade 1924.859

Conceptually and stylistically, this object is beyond all else a piece of Gothic architecture in miniature with vaults, pinnacles, columns, and traceried arches. Though the artist who created it is unknown, he was unquestionably inspired by the great Gothic buildings of his time.
The table fountain is a three-tiered assembly combining cast elements with bent sheets of gilt-silver. To these have been attached a series of enamel plaques representing grotesque figures, some of which play musical instruments. Water wheels and bells were added to capture motion and sound.
The rich detail, precious materials, and involved ornamentation of this deluxe object suggest it would have been expensive to produce and highly treasured by its original owner, someone of high status, and would have been deployed as an object of spectacle. This is the most complete example of its type known to survive from the Middle Ages. Medieval inventories reveal that small fountains like this, often taking various forms, and generally made from precious metals, once existed in large numbers, thus making the Cleveland table fountain an extremely rare object.

CMA, 1936: "Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition," cat. no. 15. Baltimore, MD, The Walters Art Gallery, 1962: "The International Style: European Art around 1400," cat. Approved: Trustees' Minutes 6/20/1962 Amended Approval: Trustees' Minutes 12/30/1962 CMA, 1963: "Gothic Art 1360-1140," CMA Bulletin 50 (September, 1963), cat. no. 33, reproduced CMA, 1966: "Treasures from Medieval France," cat. no. VI 18, p. 250, and p. 376; reproduced p. 251. Paris, 1982: "Le Siecle de Charles V at the Grand Palais, Paris," cat. no. 191, pp. 236-238, reproduced p. 237. Approved: Trustees' Minutes 2/13/1981 Amended Approval: Trustees' Minutes 5/11/1981 CMA, 1991: "Object Lessons: Cleveland Creates an Art Museum, Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts of Dijon (May 28-September 15, 2004); The Cleveland Museum of Art (October 24, 2004-January 9, 2005) "Dukes and Angels: Art from the Court of Burgundy (1364-1419).", p.87, repr.p.87. Bavarian Nationalmuseum, Munich (5/10/2007 - 9/16/2007), the J. Paul Getty Musuem, Los Angeles (10/30/2007 - 1/20/2008) and Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN (2/13/2009 - 6/7/2009): "Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art" The Cleveland Museum of Art (10/09/2016-02/26/2017); "Myth and Mystique: Cleveland’s Gothic Table Fountain".

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Library materials about France, Paris, 14th century (6)

Detail Views