Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. A bronze lion in a quasi recumbent pose, resting on his rear end with a curled tail, however his front paws are poised for action, the right one steadying his body as his left paw reaches out in a threatening manner. In addition to this dramatic sense of motion, the details of his furry mane and coat as well as his delineated claws and roaring mouth bring this wild feline to life. All is finely cast via the lost wax (cire perdue) process. A special example probably intended as an ornament and/or support for a piece of furniture such as a three-legged table or a candelabrum. So finely modeled with a beautiful green patina! Size: 1.875" W x 2.125" H (4.8 cm x 5.4 cm)
In the classical world, lions symbolized power, wealth, and might. Lions were famously featured in many ancient myths, perhaps the most famous being that of Heracles slaying the Nemean lion for his first labor. The lions fur was believed to be impenetrable to attacks since according to legend it was made of gold and its claws were far sharper than swords with the power to slice through armor. In the end, Heracles defeated the lion by strangling it and wore its skin.
Lions were also favorite iconography for buildings, coins, and statues. Examples include the Lions Gate to the Citadel of Mycenae, the Terrace of the Lions on the island of Delos, and the lion hunt mosaic from Pella featuring Alexander engaged in a lion hunt. Of course lions were also used in the Roman arenas where they would fight other animals, such as tigers and bears. Today one would never imagine lions in ancient Greece; however, they did live there as well. Unfortunately, this animal became extinct partially due to human intervention.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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