Musée d'Orsay: Antoine-Louis Barye Seated Lion

Antoine-Louis Barye
Seated Lion

Seated Lion
Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875)
Seated Lion
Plaster model
H. 200; W. 85 cm; D. 186 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Gérard Blot / Christian Jean

Seated Lion
Seated Lion

Lion assis [Seated Lion]

In 1846, Louis-Philippe commissioned Barye to produce a pendant for a statue in the Tuileries Gardens, Lion with a Snake. The two statues stayed in the gardens for over twenty years. In 1867, the Seated Lion was moved to the entrance then known as the Guichet de l'Empereur on the Quai des Tuileries, where it still can be seen today.

Since ancient times, the lion has served as a symbol of majestic power. The imposing stature, royal beauty and simple, masterly treatment of this lion command admiration. But the monumental stillness of Barye's lion was most unusual at the time. The iconography of Barye's animals broke so sharply with what nineteenth-century spectators were accustomed to see that this gentle-looking lion was sometimes portrayed as a ferocious, threatening wild cat. In a drawing by the famous caricaturist Cham, we see a passenger in the omnibus of the Tuileries "suddenly waking up nose-to-nose with Barye's lion" transformed into a roaring beast with a bristling mane.

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