column base is front half of stylized lion with mouth slightly open and head turned slightly toward PL; lion rests its front paws on the carcass of a calf; birds on lion's shoulders; reddish marble--tan tones at top--with black spots; grey spiral fluted column; reddish marble capital with horizontal deeply-incised wavy ribs and lion's head at each corner

Lion with Calf, one of a pair of monumental lions with columns and capitals, c. 1210-1220

Moon-faced with large, almond-shaped eyes and mouths open showing canines, each of these lions sports a luxuriant mane of wavy locks ending in tight curls that cascade down their backs. One lion has subdued his prey—a young calf lies lifeless under his paws—the second is engaged in mortal combat with a serpent whose teeth are sunk deep into the tender flesh of the lion’s neck. His survival is far from assured.

These lions were made during a boom in ecclesiastical building with elaborate architectural and figural programs beginning in the 11th century. While it isn’t possible to know where or how the lions were originally disposed, one can imagine them serving as supports for freestanding columns framing a portal, or entrance to a church or private chapel.

In the following centuries it was not uncommon for architectural elements to be moved and reconfigured in new spaces. This appears to be the case for these lions which, by 1893, had been incorporated into the facade of Martinvast, an old Normandy estate by its owner Arthur de Schickler (1828-1919) who made alterations to the chateau in the gothic revival style from 1867 to 1893.

Details
Title
Lion with Calf, one of a pair of monumental lions with columns and capitals
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2021.113.1a-c
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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column base is front half of stylized lion with mouth slightly open and head turned slightly toward PL; lion rests its front paws on the carcass of a calf; birds on lion's shoulders; reddish marble--tan tones at top--with black spots; grey spiral fluted column; reddish marble capital with horizontal deeply-incised wavy ribs and lion's head at each corner