Baptismal font

German (Bremen)
Medieval (Gothic)
Goteke Klinghe (German (Bremen), active in the late 15th century)

Object Place: Europe, Bremen, Germany


100.4 x 101.2 cm (39 1/2 x 39 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Metal: leaded bronze (body of font: 77.7% copper, 9.9% tin, 12.4% lead)

On View

Museum Council Gallery (Gallery 254)





Circular basin with two busts protruding from the rim and supported by four standing angels. Bowl cast in one piece, legs and handles cast on reinforced with metal keys and pins, and chased minimally. The outside of the basin with a stippled ground is decorated with fourteen continuous flamboyant Gothic arches beneath which are a Crucifixion with the Virgin (inscribed S.MAREIA) and Saint John (inscribed S.IOHANS) and thirteen standing Apostles, each identified by an inscription. Beginning with the Crucifixion and proceeding to the right, the Apostles are:

Name Inscription Attributes
Matthew S.MATTHEVS sword, book
John S.IOHANNES chalice
Simon S.SIMON saw, book
Philip S.FILIPPVS double cross, book
Luke S.LUKAS palm branch, three balls, belt
Jude S.IVDAS club, book
Andrew S.ANDREAS saltire
James the Less S.IACOBVS D.K fuller’s staff, book
Thomas S.THOMAS lance
Mathias S.MATTHIAS ax, book
Bartholomew S.BARTHOLOMEVS knife, book
James the Great S.IACOBV D.G staff, shell
Peter S.PETRVS key, book

An inscription in old Saxon dialect around the upper rim reads [GOTE] KE KLINGHE DE MI GEGOTEN HAD GOT GEU [E SYNER SELEN] RAT S ANNA S KATRINA S DORATEA S MARGRET S GARDRUD HEL[P]. On the lower rim is the date: ANNO DNI MCCCCLXXXIII AN MIICHAL MEN DEN LOUR. The underside of the basin shows a central rosette surrounded by two concentric bands of profile acanthus. The frontal angels, each with long curly hair and wearing dalmatic and alb, hold shields with distinctive coats of arms.

This superbly modeled basin is supported by four figures dressed as deacons, members of the church hierarchy, bearing the coat of arms of the font’s donor. The relief decoration of the exterior consists of a Crucifixion scene and Saint Luke and the twelve apostles, disciples of Christ, all identified by their names. In old Saxon dialect is inscribed the name of the maker, the youngest member of a family of bronze founders active in Bremen in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. In the medieval period, the child being baptized was fully immersed in the font, which explains the large size of this example.


Upper rim: "[gote]ke klinghe de mi gegoten had got geu[e syner selen] rat s anna s katrina s doratea s margret s gardrud hel[p]"
Lower rim: "anno dni mcccclxxxiii an mii[s]c[h]al men den [l]our"


Upper rim: "[gote]ke klinghe de mi gegoten"


By 1722, John Churchhill (1650-1722), first Duke of Marloborough, Oxfordshire, England. By 1890, Baron Seillière (Chateau de Mello) Oise, France; May 5-10, 1890, Seillière sale, Georges Petit, Paris, lot 429. By 1938, Clarence H. Mackay (1874-1938), Roslyn, NY [see note 1]; 1941, sold by Jacques Seligmann & Co., New York, on behalf of the estate of Clarence H. Mackay to the MFA for $15000. (Accession Date: June 5, 1941)

[1] This information is from the records of Clarence H. Mackay per a letter of June 10, 1941 to the MFA from Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., New York. See MFA curatorial files.

Credit Line

Sarah F. Gorham and Alice H. Goddard Fund