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Home > Auctions > 24th November 2020 > Large Medieval Guardian Lion Statue

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LOT 0519

GBP (£) 1,500 - 2,000
EUR (€) 1,650 - 2,200
USD ($) 1,950 - 2,590

Opening Bid
£1,350 (EUR 1,487; USD 1,751) (+bp*)

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Large Medieval Guardian Lion Statue

11th-12th century AD

A large carved stone male lion standing on a rectangular D-section base; the animal's back is curved, its haunches rounded, head held erect and broad mane extending from the neck onto the shoulders and chest; from the Provence region of southern France. 79.4 kg, 67cm (26 1/2"). Fine condition.

Ex UK collection since 2012; formerly in the Bruneton Collection, France; accompanied by an archaeological report by Dr. Raffaele D’Amato
See Eusebio, R. M., La voce delle cattedrali, Bari, 2010.
Most probably this lion was positioned at the entrance of a church, or an isolated guardian of the borders of some feudal possession. The lion was an undisputed symbol of strength: therefore, placed at the entrance of the churches, it symbolised the strength that monitored the sacred space. According to medieval bestiaries, the lion was also a symbol of Christ.

From the 4th century AD, the vision of Ezekiel and John's Apocalypse assigned the lion a stable place in the iconography of the tetramorph (the Four Living Beings in front of God) to represent the evangelist Mark next to the calf (Luke), the Angel (Matthew) and the eagle (John). They are the four winged cherubs singing the triumphal hymn, exclaiming, proclaiming, and saying: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth'. The oldest representations date back to the 5th century AD and are found in the mosaics of the baptistery of Naples and in the apse of S. Prudenziana in Rome. The tetramorph - that synthesises a single being with multiple faces meaning the different Christian senses of the four animals - was a favourite subject in 12th century medieval art for the decoration of the main portals of the great churches and cathedrals.