Engraved bowl

Northern German
last third of 12th–first third of 13th century

Object Place: Europe, Northern, Germany, north


Diam: 27.4 x 5.3 cm (10 13/16 x 2 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Bronze (93.5% copper, 5.2% tin, 1.3% lead, trace of zinc)

Not On View





Shallow bowl with flat narrow rim and decorated interior. Cast, hammered, and engraved. Inscribed within a central circle (formed by a compass) is a seated three-quarter-length crowned female figure in frontal view. Dressed in a full-sleeved tunic with bands at the collar and sides and a low hanging belt at the waist, she raises her hands, holding a disk in each. Groups of three parallel lines and undulating lines (possibly indicating a fur trim) mark the edges of the mantle, which covers both shoulders and falls behind the body on the left and in front of it on the right.
Resting on an outer circle are four busts of female figures forming a quatrefoil around the central figure. They wear even more simplified garments: tunics with wide bands at the collar and mantles marked by double parallel lines that fall over both shoulders. Like the central figure, their hair is of medium length and gathered at the back. The heads of the top and bottom figures are in three-quarter view; those at the sides are in profile. The oval faces are all similar, with thin noses, small mouths indicated by two short lines, and large eyes with raised undulating eyebrows. Between the busts are plants comprised of half-palmettes and blossoms resembling papyrus.


1901, found in the Rhine near Cologne [see note 1]. By 1905, Robert Becker, Cologne. Albert Figdor, Vienna (b. 1843 - d. 1927); September 29, 1930, posthumous Figdor sale, Paul Cassirer, Berlin, lot 438, sold for M 1,600 to the Brummer Gallery, New York (stock no. P7318); May 12, 1949, Brummer sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, lot 391, to the MFA for $70. (Accession Date: May 12, 1949)

[1] Anton C. Kisa, "Die gravierten Metallschüsseln des XII. und XIII. Jahrhunderts," Zeitschrift für christliche Kunst 8 (1905): 235. At this time the bowl was in the possession of the Cologne art dealer Robert Becker.

Credit Line

William Francis Warden Fund