By Stephen N. Fliegel and Elina Gertsman
The Cleveland Museum of Art’s medieval Table Fountain (c. 1320–40) has somehow survived nearly intact for over 700 years. A medieval automaton, the table fountain is an exquisite piece of Gothic architecture in miniature complete with parapets, vaults, arcades, and columns. Along with animal-shaped nozzles and intimate scenes in opaque enamel, the sight and sound of flowing water is also captured by water wheels and bells. An exquisite example of French metalwork, the fountain is truly a unique example of Gothic fashion and courtly taste.
While little is known of its origin and history, similar fountains have been mentioned in royal inventories, but almost none have survived, leading early scholars to misunderstand its function.
The third book in the museum’s Masterwork series, Myth and Mystique: Cleveland’s Gothic Table Fountain reassesses this extraordinary piece in the context of other similar luxury objects, analyzing specifically the fountain’s history, functionality, materials, and style."