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    Sale 7568

    Seven Centuries: Italian Works of Art From Palazzo Odescalchi, Rome

    8 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 475

    A PAIR OF FRAGMENTARY CARVED MARBLE LIONS

    POSSIBLY SOUTHERN ITALIAN, 12TH OR 13TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A PAIR OF FRAGMENTARY CARVED MARBLE LIONS
    POSSIBLY SOUTHERN ITALIAN, 12TH OR 13TH CENTURY
    Each depicted standing and with an integrally carved octagonal column base on the back; weathering, chips and losses
    33 and 30¾ in. (83.8 and 78.1 cm.) long, each (2)


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    The symbolic use of lions in early religious sculpture has often been seen as twofold; in the Gothic period they were the attribute of St. Mark and were also often found accompanying other saints, while in the Romanesque period, as exemplified by the present lot, they were also seen as manifestations of evil. A group of six lions dating from the 12th century and supporting a pulpit in the Duomo San Pietro, Naples (Decker, loc. cit.), bear close similarities to the two lions offered here and demonstrate their function within an architectural setting. In each instance the beasts display a characteristic elongated neck, with wide open mouth, similar manes and highly defined ribs. As the column bases on the backs of each remind us, the lions are, effectively, caryatids that are symbolically crushed by the weight of the church pillars in a representation of virtue overcoming evil. As a reminder of the omnipresence of evil, and the safety from evil one could achieve by believing in God and the church, one is reminded of the words in 1 Peter 5:8: Be controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like the roaring lion looking for something to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.

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    Literature

    COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
    H. Decker, Italia Romanica - Die hohe Kunst der Romanischen epoche, Vienna and Munich, 1958, pl. 131.