Holy water bucket

Netherlands (Flanders)16th century

Grão Vasco National Museum

Grão Vasco National Museum
Viseu, Portugal

The cast copper holy water bucket is a Flemish piece, whose trilobate handle slots into two small figures with human faces, wearing caps with ear flaps. Whether depicting imps or jesters, such figurations were linked to the popular traditions of Flanders and Northern Europe.
They are the remaining traces of a non-erudite culture that we can also find in many other small figures displaying an identical taste and used to decorate the wooden choir stalls carved by Flemish artists in Portugal. Here, in the same way, the marginal “upside-down” world is depicted in direct contrast to Order and Good. Used as supports, the heads of these imps signify Evil and other diabolical forces, which have since been subjugated and tamed


  • Title: Holy water bucket
  • Creator: Netherlands (Flanders)
  • Date Created: 16th century
  • Physical Location: Grâo Vasco Nacional Museum, Viseu, Portugal
  • Physical Dimensions: 24.7 cm x 26.3 cm x 25.8 cm
  • Type: Metals
  • Rights: © DGPC/ADF/Photographer:Carlos Monteiro, 2004
  • Medium: Cast copper, welded and incised

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