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Home > Auctions > 7th September 2021 > Massive Medieval Ram's Head Water Fountain

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LOT 0518

GBP (£) 10,000 - 14,000
EUR (€) 11,750 - 16,450
USD ($) 13,940 - 19,510

Opening Bid
£9,000 (EUR 10,577; USD 12,542) (+bp*)

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Massive Medieval Ram's Head Water Fountain

13th-14th century AD or earlier

An impressive ram-head decoration from a fountain, the wide head carved in high-relief with thick wavy fleece and large curving horns, crescentic deep-set eyes and protruding snout, open mouth with a hole drilled through to the oval basin behind the neck. 258 kg, 102cm (40 1/4"). Fine condition.

From an important English collection; previously with Dukes Auctions, Dorchester, UK, 31 July-1 August 2014, lot 982 (sold as Roman); accompanied by Art Loss Register certificate number S00091151, dated 29 August 2014 and by an archaeological expertise written by Dr Raffaele D’Amato and a geological scholarly report no.TL05388 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10752-177462.

See Gough, M., ‘Alahan Monastery, Fourth Preliminary Report’ in Anatolian Studies, 17, 1967, pp.37-47, pl.V, figs.a,b; Bouras, L., ‘Κάποιες παρατηρήσεις σχετικά με τη φιάλη της Μεγίστης Λαύρας στο Άγιο Όρος και το χάλκινο «Στροβίλιον» της’ (Some Observations on the Grand Lavra Phiale at Mount Athos and its Bronze Strobilion, πίν. 44-51), in Δελτίον XAE 8 (1975-1976), Περίοδος Δ'. Στη μνήμη του Βίκτωρα Λάζαρεφ (1897-1976), Athens, 1976, pp. 85-96; Belcari, R., ‘La fonte dei Canali alla Marina di Piombino. Approvvigionamento idrico, committenza e maestranze alla metà del Duecento,’ in Baldassarri, M., Reti d’acqua. Infrastrutture idriche e ruolo socio-economico dell’acqua in Toscana dopo il Mille, Pisa 2008, pp.113-130.

The lion and ram’s head were the Romans favourite animal motif on water fountains, usually made of marble and installed as part of large-scale monuments like basilicas or amphitheatres. Ram heads, though less popular than lion heads, were often used as water spouts and
survived in the architecture of the late Empire and Middle Ages. With the advent of Christianity, the ram was connected with the image of Christ the Good Shepherd. Massive ram’s head water spouts, like our specimen, were used in the Basilica of the Alahan Monastery, built by Justinian the Great. Belonging to the larger cornice, these rams' heads were carved almost in the round and placed at regular intervals as ornamental rainwater spouts. Very often, old monuments were transformed and the material re-employed, and this may have also been the case for our ram.