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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Basin Handle with Lion Skin Attachment
Work Type
first half 5th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Classical period, Early
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
7.3 x 9 cm (2 7/8 x 3 9/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina of both handles (2012.1.162 and 2012.1.163) is green with spots of underlying red exposed. The entire surface of both objects has been carefully cleaned mechanically to reveal original surface detail. Some fine tool marks from the cleaning process are visible under magnification, especially on the back side of the lion plates.

The handles and the lion mask plates are cast. It is likely that some cold working was done to enhance details of the faces, but the corroded and cleaned conditions make this difficult to determine. The handle points are pressure fitted into holes in the plates, and it is still possible to swivel the handles in relation to the plate. A raised lump of gray material (4 mm in diameter) on the back of both plates, although in different locations, appears to be mineralized or partially mineralized lead and may relate to the means by which the plates were mounted to their vessels.

Henry Lie (submitted 2011)


Recorded Ownership History
[Sotheby's New York Antiquities Auction, 1985], sold; to The Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1985-2012), transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.

Sotheby's New York, December 9, 1985, Sale 5398, Lot 267.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
The square-sectioned basin handle is oblong; it tapers toward the attachment plate, and there is a molded knob on the opposite side, consisting of a wide torus-shaped knob with slightly flattened sides and a small circular rise on either side of the knob. The attachment is in the form of a flattened lion skin (1). The thickest part of the plate is at the top, where it flares into a spool-shape, with a hole on each end for the insertion of the handle. On the front, the head of a lioness is clear, with ears, eyes, muzzle, and mouth distinctly molded, although rather puffy in execution; parts of the skin hang in triangles on either side of the head. The back is flat and featureless.


1. For the attachment plate, compare W. Gauer, Die Bronzegefässe von Olympia: Mit Ausnahme der geometrischen Dreifüsse und der Kessel des orientalisierenden Stils, Olympische Forschungen 20 (Berlin, 1991) 203, nos. Le 216 and 217, pl. 32. The grip section of the handle is similar to ibid., 250, no. Te 18, fig. 25.2, although it differs where it connects to the plate. See also C. Tarditi, Vasi di bronzo in area Apula: Produzioni greche ed italiche di età arcaica e classica, Università di Lecce Dipartmento di Beni Culturali Settore storico-Archeologico Collina 8 (Lecce, 1996) 21-22 and 125, nos. 22-23.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • Chiara Tarditi, Bronze Vessels from the Acropolis: Style and Decoration in Athenian Production between the Sixth and Fifth Centuries BC, Edizioni Quasar (Roma, 2016), p. 240, fig. 22a

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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