Object Image

The lion was meant to guard a cemetery. Ready to pounce, he turns his head, roaring at impure intruders. The artist who sculpted it never saw a real lion, and so he combined the features of more familiar animals: the hips of a cow, the vertebrae of a goat, and the ribs of a horse. The eyes are strangely human and the pose recalls that of a dog. The result, however, is a fearsome, powerful image. The lion was discovered with some pieces missing, but through careful art historical research it was possible to restore them in plaster. The lined areas on this drawing indicate modern restoration.

Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust

325 B.C.E.
Pentelic marble
44.5 x 80.5 x 22.8 in
Image and text: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2023

Where you'll find this

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Permanent collection

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