19 Jan 2017

Bishop Richard Fox's Ablution Basin

The exhibition includes one of two surviving ablution basins made for Richard Fox, which he would have used when he was officiating at mass:

It is normally on display at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, together with other items that belonged to him, including his crosier, discussed in the previous post:

The upper side of the basin has a sunburst in relief, in the middle of which his arms are enamelled. Below his episcopal miter is a shield with, on the dexter side, the crossed sword of St Paul and keys of St Peter (saints to whom his cathedral, Winchester, was dedicated), and on the sinister side, Richard Fox's emblem, the Pelican in its Piety (as discussed in the previous post):

To the left of the central disc is a small hole, visible in the image at the top of this post, through which water could be drained. The water would pass through a spout on the underside of the basin, very much like a gargoyle:

Further Reading
T[imothy] S[chroder], "Pair of Ablutions Basins", Gothic: Art for England, 1400-1547, ed. by R. Marks and P. Williamson, exhibition catalogue, V&A Museum (London, 2003), pp.242-3 no.106b.

Philippa Glanville, "Bishop Fox's Ablution Basins", in Corpus Silver: Patronage and Plate at Corpus Christi College, Oxford: A Collection of Essays, edited by Clive Ellory et al. (Oxford, 1999), pp.175-94.

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