The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 20, 2018

Table Fountain, c. 1320-1340

gilt-silver and translucent enamels, Overall: 31.1 x 24.1 x 26 cm (12 1/4 x 9 1/2 x 10 3/16 in.). Gift of J. H. Wade 1924.859

This rare object is the most complete example of its type known to have survived from the Middle Ages, though they once existed in large numbers. The object is an exquisite piece of Gothic architecture in miniature. The fountain originally stood in a large catch basin. Scented water, pumped through a central tube, emerged at the top through a series of nozzles creating water jets. These in turn forced the rotation of the water wheels and rang the tiny bells. It is likely they were mounted on tripods or small side tables to be admired for their beautiful craftsmanship. Clearly they were a feat of technical ingenuity intended to entertain guests.

This fountain illustrates a type of object that was much loved by the Valois princes of France, including the dukes of Burgundy. Such objects embodied aristocratic values: magnificence in appearance, ceremony, and surroundings. Their splendid deployment of goldsmithing, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, music, and pageants were emblematic of status, wealth, and power.

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.

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