Roman Bronze Lion Statuette

$317.16

A Roman lion statuette cast from bronze displaying the animal sat with its hind legs bent. Incision have been made to outline the almond-shaped eyes, large nose and the prominent mane. The lion is sat upon a rectangular base which has been mounted on a custom-made stand.

Date: Circa 1st-3rd century AD
Provenance: ‘The Ancient Menagerie Collection’ formerly the property of a Cambridgeshire lady, collected since the 1990s and acquired from auctions and dealers throughout Europe and the USA, now ex London collection.
Condition: Fine condition, wear from age with patination and earthly encrustation to the surface. Height without the stand; 4.5cm

SOLD

SKU: LD-631 Category: Tags: , ,

In the Roman world, lions maintained a strong association with Hercules, as he famously encountered the Nemean Lion as one of his Twelve Labours. The lion was far from a mythological beast, however, and would have been a familiar sight across the Roman Empire. The ‘venationes’ (“hunts”) and other ‘spectacula’ (“shows”) of ancient Rome saw exotic species (including panthers, elephants, and bears) procured from all corners of the Roman Empire – a conscious demonstration in itself of the nation’s extensive reach and authority – and placed in the amphitheatre for gory entertainment. Notoriously, lions were integral to the form of capital punishment known as ‘damnatio ad bestias’, whereby condemned criminals were pitted against the beasts. Lions were also sought out by Roman army units as a pastime when not at war – the process of capturing the beasts is recorded in several Roman mosaics, as is ‘damnatio ad bestias’, which became a motif of Christian martyrdom in later antiquity.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

Weight 82.9 g
Dimensions W 3 x H 5.8 cm
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