Rare: Iron Wild Man as part of a rare and intricate doorknocker (Northern Spain, 15th century). Dimensions: 12,5x5x3cm.
The origin of the figure of the Wild Man (and Wild Woman) in art goes back several millenia in time: Silenus in classical antiquity, Enkidu in Gilgamesh or Nebuchaddnezzar in the Book of Daniel are some famous examples. An excellent work on Wild Man iconography in medieval times is the fantastic book ‘The Wild Man: Medieval Myth and Symbolism’ by Timothy Husband (Metropolitan Museum, 1980). It is graciously downloadable for free on the website of the Met. What a bliss!
The creature of the woods (‘Woodwose’ or ‘homo silvestris’) did not have a good reputation in medieval times: he stood for anything uncontrollable and uncivilized and was associated with great physical strength. The perception changed in Renaissance, when he was viewed as example of a ‘pure’ and ‘natural’ being in a society that started to be urbanized and detached from nature. We see them appear in iconography of heraldic weapons, as ornaments of tankards, chandeliers, stairways and doors.
Some examples of Wild Men as chandeliers or supports for vessels can be consulted in the aforementioned book by Timothy Husband on pp. 173-179. The bronze candleholder (Germany 1525) on pp. 173-74 shows a fierce wild man holding the candle in his right hand, fixed on a support with his feet. His back is free. He would have held a heraldic shield in his left hand “The wild man’s superhuman power and virility alluded to the guardianship and continuity of the family whose arms were so displayed” (T. Husband p. 175). The one on pp. 176-177 was either part of a chandelier or a foot from a vessel. It has a vertical hole drilled through the back.
Those on pp. 178-79 show them also in kneeling position as supports for beakers.
Our wild man has holes drilled in his feet and a solid point for attachment in the back that would have fixed him to his support. The hands are hollow: they would have clasped a club, the weapon ‘par excellence’ of the wild man.
Because of the 3 points of fixations, but also because of his size and the fact that he is cast in iron (instead of bronze) we believe this wild man to have been part of an intricate doorknocker. His ‘superhuman power and virility’ and his club would be the ideal protection for those inhabiting the house. He would – literally – have been the doorman.
In the publication ‘DOORKNOCKERS – a collection of iron sculptures’ by Cesati & Cesati (Milan, 2009) are amazing examples of iron doorknockers. One of them ‘An unrivalled doorknocker’ shows a rectangular iron frame in which an iron guardsman is attached. The doorknocker is placed over this figure. We quote from the book “The most interesting element of the piece presented here is, however, the extraordinary wrought iron figure, nailed in the middle of the back plate and standing over the quadrangular knob: the figure depicts a bearded warrior or a pilgrim wearing a mantle, with a peculiarly intriguing aspect, probably once holding a spear or a sword in his hands as a symbol of ward or defence.”. We strongly believe that our wild man had this same function. He would also have been attached at the back and the feet and would have been the ideal guardian figure.
It should, therefore, be situated in northern Spain (Aragon?) in the 15th century.
Delevery information :
Depends upon the type of object.
For non fragile objects we offer free shipment by post to maximum cost of 40 euro at the risk of the buyer.
For fragile and/or large/heavy objects we recommend the buyer to work with a shipping company at his cost.
Price : on request
3 200 €
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