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Art from Home: Stories of Cultural Connections

Louvre Abu Dhabi brings the museum to you by telling stories about the art works on loans from our partners and from our collection through video, audio and activities that can be downloaded for children.

Basin inscribed with the name of Bonifilius

Northern Italy
About 1300
Louvre Abu Dhabi
LAD 2011.030|101 x 166 cm

This ablution basin was decorated by the sculptor Bonifilius with various animals of ambivalent symbolic significance: lions, as a symbol of power, were sometimes positive and sometimes negative in the Middle Ages, as were dragons. The porcupine, however, was a symbol of avarice for a long time before coming to represent military valour. Inside the basin is a salamander, a creature that could extinguish any flame. So the decoration evokes the struggle between good and evil, echoing water’s role of purifying the faithful before prayer.

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