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Home > Auctions > 25th May 2021 > Medieval Lion and Bear Statue Pair

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LOT 0395

GBP (£) 1,500 - 2,000
EUR (€) 1,730 - 2,310
USD ($) 2,090 - 2,780

Bid History: 2   |   Current bid: £500

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Bid History: 2   |   Current bid: £500

Medieval Lion and Bear Statue Pair

11th-12th century AD

A 'pair' of large carved stone animal figures comprising: a 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; a large guardian male bear statue modelled standing on an integral domed rectangular base; the animal has a stocky frame and shoulders, strong forepaws, rounded haunches and genitals, large head with conical muzzle and incised nostrils; both figures from the Provence region of southern France. 141.4 kg total, 67-80cm (26 1/2 - 31 1/2"). Fine condition; some restoration to the bear. [No Reserve]

Ex central London gallery; previously with Jean-Emmanuel Prunier, 15 April 2012, lot 64; formerly in the Bruneton collection, France; accompanied by an archaeological report by Dr. Raffaele D’Amato for the lion.

See Eusebio, R. M., La voce delle cattedrali, Bari, 2010, for discussion.

The lion offered here was most likely positioned at the entrance of a church, or served as an isolated guardian of the borders of some feudal possession. The lion was an undisputed symbol of strength, symbolising the strength that monitored sacred spaces. 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 was a favourite subject in 12th century medieval art for the decoration of the main portals of the great churches and cathedrals.