Monday, 2 December 2013

A Cavalcade of Sculpted Lions

A lion roaring in Musei Capitolini.
The shimmering white landscape - what does it make you think about? Well, lions of course! More precisely, Aslan, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, the lord of Narnia, the great Lion himself. C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) was one of my beloved childhood books and it inevitably belonged to the winter season. I'm not sure which came first: was Aslan fascinating because he is a lion, or are lions fascinating because of Aslan? In any case, I'm always spotting lions everywhere, along with other intriguing beasts such as dragons and gryphons. You may remember my previous posts about the study trip to Rome last spring. Indeed, I did take around 5,000 photos during those two hectic weeks, so not surprisingly I was able to capture a whole pride of lions while there. In this post I concentrate on the most presentable shots of sculptural art. A cavalcade of one-dimensional lions will follow soon.
A lion guarding the courtyard of Lateran cloister.
A black lion on the top of Corinthian column in the Lateran cloister yard.
Here is an interesting composition I don't recall seeing before. A lion holding Baby Jesus? The pair on the right (not shown in the photo) holds a lamb. The lion here could refer to the Lion of Judah, the symbol of the tribe Jesus originated from. The statues guard the entrance of Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.
A nicely tarnished lion head on the lid of an antique sarcophagus, close to the entrance of  Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.
A lion attending the holy Mass, Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura.
A lion relief in the staircase of Palazzo Barberini.
A lion relief outside Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
A clumb of lions in Musei Capitolini.
A great lion lying in Musei Capitolini.
A hook-nosed lion on an antique sarcophagus, Musei Capitolini.
A majestic lion in black marble, Musei Vaticani.
A lion with very conscious eyes. Note also the lion shaped table feet on the back. Musei Vaticani.
An intricate lion head on an antique sarcophagus, Musei Vaticani.
A lion attacking a wild boar. A fragment of sarcophagus (AD end of the 3rd century), Musei Vaticani.
Daniel in the lions' den. On the left you see Habakkuk bringing him food. The lions look rather obedient. A detail of so called Sarcophagus of Two Brothers (AD 325-350), Musei Vaticani.


  1. Very interesting post Ruusu! These lions are amazing!

  2. Beautiful! It would have been fun to showcase sculpture in other mediums than stone as well :)

    1. You are right, but the stone sculptures made such an aesthetically pleasing cavalcade. ;) I did photograph some in metal too, but decided to include them out. Well, note to self: write some day about sculpted lions in other mediums as well.