A Superb Large c.1800 Italian Neoclassical Terracotta Recumbent Lion

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Origin: Italian
Period: Late 18thC/Early 19thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1780-1800
Width: 25.5”
Depth: 10.5”
Height: 17.5” (all at extremities)

In original condition, the generously sized recumbent terracotta lion beautifully modelled in the neoclassical style gazing forward with a vigilant expression under a richly carved mane and well articulated paws stretched upon a rectangular plinth base, surviving from eighteenth to nineteenth century Italy.

The condition is sound and stable with no major losses or cracks. There are two small chips to the whole, which are historic. The piece has a lovely undisturbed patina to the surface and hasn’t been cleaned. There are no signs of restoration.

A terracotta piece of this type is very difficult to attribute with any certainty though in terms of country of origin, through its style we can conclude it is almost certainly Italian due to the way the characterful way the face of the lion is modeled. There is also a distinct possibility that this piece is early nineteenth century rather than mid.

The level of craftsmanship seen here is wonderful with the proportions of the muscle and the structure of the lion’s body all beautifully executed, with each component in complete harmony with one another.

Italy has a long-standing relationship with the lion. Lions, and what they represented in terms of power and strength, were so important to the Venetians that centuries ago the nobility used to keep them captive in their gardens, and for a time the official state lion lived in a golden cage in the Piazza San Marco.

A serious object of both academic and decorative interest and one with real presence.

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