Sign Bracket

Artist/maker unknown, Flemish

Made in Bruges, Southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), Europe

16th century

Wrought iron

39 1/2 x 59 inches (100.3 x 149.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 275, European Art 1500-1850, second floor (Pollack Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with funds contributed by Mrs. Edward W. Bok from the Samuel Yellin Collection, 1931

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    In medieval and Renaissance Europe, shop signs identified the nature of the businesses and attracted customers using symbolic objects and bold design more than words. Wrought iron--originally often brightly painted or gilded--was chosen for elaborate signs that needed to be durable. This bracket would have been attached to a building by means of the vertical bar, which allowed the sign to extend into the street over the heads of passersby. The identifying symbol providing the actual sign--now lost--would have hung free from the two eyeholes, thereby presenting a clear silhouette. This bracket is very close in design and ornamentation to one with the sign of a curry comb that was still to be seen in Bruges in Belgium at the beginning of this century. The Museum's piece was once in the collection of historic ironwork formed by Samuel Yellin, the brilliant Philadelphia craftsman who drew inspiration from such earlier metalwork. In several of his gates, he created variations of the conical vases with stylized bouquets seen here. Dean Walker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 118.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.