Myth and Mystique: Cleveland's Gothic Table Fountain

Presented by The Cleveland Museum of Art

Venue: The Cleveland Museum of Art

City: Cleveland

The most complete surviving example of a Gothic table fountain is preserved in the Cleveland Museum of Art. This medieval automaton is datable to about 1320-40 and was likely produced in Paris for a person of high status, perhaps a member of the royal court. The Cleveland fountain is internationally recognized as a unique example of a genre now understood primarily through documentary sources. Such fountains existed in the 14th and 15th centuries in substantial numbers. They assumed various forms but were always made from precious metals and sometimes embellished with colorful enamels or semi-precious stones. Table fountains were probably returned to the goldsmith's shop for conversion into vessels or coinage once they ceased to function or the fashion had passed, accounting for the scarcity of surviving examples today.

This exhibition will, for the first time, present this unique and special object as the focus of a single study. The table fountain will be placed at the center of a group of objects including luxury silver, hand-washing vessels, enamels, illuminated manuscripts, and a painting. Each will inform some aspect of the fountain's history, functionality, presumed use and context, materials, technique, dating, and style. The exhibition will include important loans from international lenders and is co-curated by Stephen N. Fliegel, curator of Medieval art, and Elina Gertsman, professor of art history at Case Western Reserve University.

  • October 9, 2016 – February 26, 2017
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