Description The narrative on this basin tells the story of Saint Ursula and her 11,000 companions, who embarked on a pious journey from England to the Continent only to be met by the Huns in Cologne and slaughtered in 383 CE. Ursula was warned of her impending doom, according to the legend, but willingly accepted martyrdom to join the kingdom of heaven. The narrative is executed in a simple, engaging manner. The movement of Ursula and her companions is echoed in the narrative progression around the bowl as one turns it to follow the story. The kinetic dimension of the display would likely have made this manner of recounting the saint's legend more memorable than simple recitation. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that bronze vessels of this type might have been used for teaching, while others maintain that they might have played a role in liturgical hand-washing performed by nuns. In the latter instance, the swirling ocean crossed by Ursula must have looked quite realistic when seen through the rippling water that filled the bowl.
Provenance Signol; M.E.G. Reidy Sale, London, July 19, 1929; Bacri, Paris; Léon Gruel, Paris; Henry Walters, Baltimore, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Transcription] Engraved on rim of bowl: DESPONSANDA DAT HIS RESPONSIO BLANDA / VIRGINEO Q[UE] GRAVES MITTIT PC AGMINE NAVES / POSTQUA[M] TURBA RUDIS FUIT HIS EXERCITA LUDIS CARBASA PANDUNTUR AGRIP[P]INA Q[UE] FERUNTUR / QUE LOCA VIRGINEIS DISCUNT SACRANDA TROPHEIS / HINC VIA DIRGITUR QUA MOX BASILEA SUBITUR; [Translation] The betrothed gives a favorable answer / He sends great ships for the crowd of young women / After the uneducated crowd was practiced in these games, the sails are raised bearing them to Agippina [Cologne] / This place they teach is made sacred through the triumph of the virgins / from here they took the direct way to Basel; [Transcription] Engraved in the border around the central medalion: [UR]S[U]LA SOLLICITE SACRA DISCIT DOGMATA VITAE; [Translation] Ursula eagerly teaches the holy dogma of life.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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