In Cheval surpris par un lion Barye has modified and re-used both the central horse and lion that appear in his 1838 model, Deux cavaliers arabes tuant un lion (see lot 26). In the first version of the work (see lot 182, sold in these rooms, 15 February 1995), edited around 1850, the supporting role of the tree stump is emphasized by its thickness and verticality, appearing almost as an extension of the horse's belly. In this second version, first offered in Barye's 1857 catalogue, the angle of the stump has been altered, its girth reduced and an off-shoot branch connecting with the base added. The result is a shift of support away from directly beneath the horse, with the effect that it now appears to be balancing on its hind legs. Other modifications and the addition of a turned lower section to the base serve to increase the drama of the composition still further.
A second example of this same version from Guinle's collection was sold in these rooms, 25 May 1995, lot 154 ($19,550).