Dinanderie Lectern

Low Countries
Medieval (Gothic)
about 1500 or 17th century

Object Place: Europe, Flanders


160.2 x 70.3 x 70.3 cm (63 1/16 x 27 11/16 x 27 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Metal; brass (various parts: 74.8-79.1% copper, 18.2-23.5% zinc, .8-1.9% lead, trace-.8% tin)

Not On View





Bookstand comprising a square base supported by lions in the corners, a circular shaft of four molded parts, and a basilisk trampled by an eagle with a bookrest attached to its spread wings. Cast, possibly turned on a lathe, stamped, chased, and assembled with rivets and pins. The shaft and base are held together by a long iron rod with a loop at the top and, at the bottom under the base, a slot for an iron crossbar. Virtually identical in shape are four side panels, each with a corner block and projecting rectangular pin and a narrow lip at the top on which the base plate rests. Circular rivets attach the sides to one another and to a base plate; projecting pins at the corners are riveted through rectangular holes in the lions’ back, which are solid cast in one piece. A central circle in the middle of the base plate is stamped on either side with the assembly mark o. The molded pieces of the shaft are cast in one piece and are usually stamped twice with assembly marks. Starting from the bottom, the first is marked o on the base and I on top; the second has I on the base and II on top; the third has nothing on the base and III on top; and the fourth is stamped III on the base and on the top has two rectangular holes, one marked X AGVILA and the other XXX BASILVS, for pins projecting from the basilisk and eagle. The basilisk with a projecting rectangular pin marked XXX BASILVS is a very thick hollow-cast piece. Riveted to the pin is a shim, of the same metal, presumably to make the piece fit more tightly in the hole of the shaft. With a long curled tail, ribbed wings, and a series of curved, chased impressions indicating feathers on the body, the basilisk turns its head with open beak to stare at the eagle, who raises one talon to trample him. A rectangular pin, stamped AGVILA X and riveted to a metal shim, emanates from the talon on which the eagle stands. His casting is hollow and very heavy; a small rivet on the tail probably covers a hole left by a core pin. The bookrest is cast in one piece and attached to the wings by threaded screws and washer nuts.


1932, Ruiz [see note 1]; November 29, 1932, sold by Ruiz to the Brummer Gallery, New York (stock no. P9050); 1948, sold by Brummer to the MFA for $8,000. (Accession Date: March 11, 1948)

[1] According to Thomas Hoving (verbal communication, January 7, 1988), "Ruiz" was Pablo Picasso's father, José Ruiz Blasco (b. 1838 - d. 1939), who lived in Barcelona, though this has not been verified.

Credit Line

Charles Amos Cummings Fund