You have just arrived on this page and that’s already a very good start 👍. Nevertheless, you must know that Stylish Lion® is leaving right now in search of adventures 🗺️ to discover the most beautiful Lion Sculptures 🦁.
Indeed, it is with pleasure that the whole Stylish Lion Clan® decided to go on an urban 👁️ exploration all over the world 🌎. The most important Lion Statues must all be listed in a quality article 🏆 in order to satisfy our most loyal readers.
Well… Don’t worry, we accept you 🤝 among us for this beautiful journey ✈️ of observation and history but above all of sharing. It’s time for you, right now, to make your choice 🤷…
Are you ready? Then it begins ⬇️!
Throughout the centuries, sculpture 🔱 has highlighted human subjects and concerns. Religious subjects, representations of historical scenes but also symbolic images are at the heart of sculptural creation 🔨.
Among the subjects that have been frequently encountered for millennia 🕰️, animals hold a special place. Both stylish and with strong symbolism, each representative of the animal kingdom has had its success 👑.
But one of them holds a more important place in the bestiary: the Lion 🦁. King animal, he crossed the times and knew how to seduce all the artists to cross the world 🌍.
1) the Lion in Art
Already during Prehistory, the Lion 🦁 is an image that inspires the artistic creator. As early as the Upper Paleolithic, a Lion Man Statuette – human body, animal head – made of mammoth ivory can be observed. It was discovered in Baden-Württemberg.
The Persians considered this noble animal 🎖️ as a symbol of strength and courage. It can be seen on the walls of various temples, on protective amulets or even on the ancient Statues of the capitals decorated with the head of the animal. The Palace of Darius 🤴 was decorated with many bas-reliefs representing the winged animal.
Pharaonic Egypt also brought to light 🛎️ the Lion and who doesn’t know the famous sphinx? This Lion with the head of a man protects the Nile valley and its inhabitants with his gaze. The Pharaohs symbolically established their reign by being represented in the form of a sphinx like the famous Statue of Hatshepsut kept in the Metropolitan Museum in New-York 🗽.
The Greeks and Romans put the Lion 🦁 in scene with the hero Hercules – episode of the Nemean lion. The Romans more particularly, give him a symbolism of power and strength, meaning that will remain in the memories 🧠.
In the Middle Ages, leonine iconography 🦁 adopts more precise codes. Thus, we speak of a nascent Lion when its body is represented only partially. It is dull if it has no teeth or tongue. The Lion is starving, if its tail is absent. He is leopard when he walks…
Some biblical episodes ✝️ allow to associate this exotic animal with Christian monuments – Daniel and the Lion’s Den, for example. King of the animals, it naturally symbolizes royalty ⚜️ and can wear a crown. He is also associated with Saint Jerome and Saint Mark. This image is also found abundantly in Venice with the famous Lion of St. Mark.
But this nobility is not the only characteristic of the Lion in medieval times ⚔️. He will also be equated with Satan – in reference to Psalm 22, verse 22: Save me from the mouth of the Lion. Many capitals thus show scenes of men being devoured by hungry Lions 😱.
The Renaissance sees a slight retreat of the Lion 🦁 in the Art. Not being able to be directly observed, he will become more discreet 🤫.
It comes back in force 👊 in Baroque art and perfectly illustrates the nobility that is valued during this period. The ancient spirit blows on the artistic currents and we can meet again the Lion 🦁 struggling, this time, with the Milon of Croton by Pierre Puget (Louvre Museum).
The animal remains an element worthy of interest for the following artists and we find the King of the Animals in all its splendor 👑 with the lion-shaped andirons surmounting a coat of arms (Musée Cognacq-Jay).
The XIXth century also has its artistic witnesses 🎨 as the Lion and Serpent by Antoine Louis Barye (Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon) or the one of the Alexandre III Bridge.
The contemporary era also has its share of sculpted Lions. Richard Orlinski 👨🎨 has created a blue Lion of rare power. Xavier Veilhan installed the noble animal 🦁 in the heart of Bordeaux.
2) the Symbolism of the Lion in the World
The Lion also has a very important place in Asian Art 🎨. It is found in China at the entrance of temples and pagodas ⛩️. It ensures the protection of the place – Imperial guardian lion, Forbidden City, Beijing.
In India, it is found in religious monuments 🛕 but also secular monuments (like in the Victorian Memorial Hall Park, Kokata). In the Hindu imagination, it is compared to the God Krishna.
Lions can still be seen 🦁 represented in Tibetan culture. But this time, he will no longer be the icon of strength and power. He is indeed for Tibetans the very image of a demon 👹.
Africa has also brought to light ☀️ this emblematic animal. It is thus found in the animal sculpture of Benin – Lion Statue in the national museum of African art. The animal again has a meaning of power ⚡ and exhibits its strength through its open mouth 🦁 and erect tail.
Dogon art 🎨 also highlights the animal. Many artists have carved masks 🎭 with leonine features used in ceremonies aimed at expiation of sins 🛐.
The Lion 🦁 quickly left the African territory to invade the European continent. It is found on many church capitals ⛪ either as a simple decorative motif (Romanesque Church of St. John the Baptist, Grandson, Vaud, Switzerland) or as a biblical representation ✝️ (Daniel in the lion’s den, a capital from the church of Sainte-Geneviève preserved in the Louvre Museum).
3) Lion Sculptures Around the World
We can see that this feline 🦁 has been able to make a place for itself in statuary art. That is why it is present in many places around the world.
The symbol of courage, power, strength is present worldwide! United state It has also seduced 🤩 Among the cities where we count the most leonine representations 🦁 in the statuary field, Stockholm holds a place apart and for good reason. The animal is present many times throughout the city 🤗.
Italy also has a good number of carved Lions, royal ⚜️ or religious effigies, as does Great Britain. Another destination for viewing Lions is the United States, where the King of Animals 👑 is enthroned in many places.
A. The Egyptian Artwork: the Sphinx of Cairo
One of the most famous examples remains without question the fascinating Sphinx 👃 of Giza in Egypt. An embodiment of the God Ra, the sculpture blends a Lion 🦁 body with the face of a human. The work is attributed to one of Cheops‘ sons – Djedefr and is believed to date from his reign (-2570/-2545). The work would have been created to symbolize the power of the late pharaoh 🤴 but also to allow him to travel safely to the world beyond ⚰️.
There are traces ✍️ of different pharaohs on the statue. Thus, Thutmose IV had engraved on the paws 🐾 of the fantastic animal, the narrative of a dream.
The other representations of deities ✝️ Egyptian, meanwhile, have a body – or bust – human and an animal face. The human head is topped with the Nemes 👑, a royal symbol. The beard, nose and Uraeus are missing – the stone not being of exceptional quality.
If this work 🦁 is one of the major creations of Egyptian art, it is above all for its dimensions: 73 meters long, 14 m wide, 20 meters high 🙄. The Sphinx was already a venerated statue 🙏 of the Egyptians and many temples 🏛️ were dedicated to him around it.
B. Stockholm : the City of Lions
The Lion 🦁 has been a huge success in the Swedish capital. It can be found in different forms, from the most majestic to the most useful. It is true that the animal is the symbol of the city 🇸🇪. It occupies the streets with the concrete traffic blocks by Anders Årfelt. These small monoliths adorn the pedestrian arteries of the city and adorn them with a very royal pomp ⚜️.
We find the sovereign 🤴 animal at the entrance of the ethnographic museum 🎨 with Japanese Lions (copy of artworks of Kyôto).
Egypt also has its Lion symbol 🐾 in the Gamla Stan district.
A nonchalantly reclining Lion on an Egyptian cartouche – inscription with hieroglyphs – is visible 👀 at the entrance of one of the bridges. It is also observable with the Bronze Statue 🟡 of Karl XIII on the Kungsträdgården square.
No less than 4 Lions 📸 surround the sovereign imagined by Erik Gustaf Göthe. Each animal puts its front paw 🐾 on a symbolic object: globe surmounted by the three crowns of Sweden and axe 🪓 of the battle of Norway in an attitude full of nobility. The feline attracts 😍 inevitably the eye.
The animal can also be found 🦁 in the heart of the traffic on the Kungsholmstorg square. This small Lion, out of the workshops of Monika Masser, is placed in the center of the space. Even though it is very small in size, it is immediately noticeable 🌟 by its elongated position of rare elegance.
More impressive, the Lion of the Palace 🏛️ of the National Diet of Sweden – Riksdagshuset – shows its musculature 💪 of stone to passers-by. Sculpted by Gustav Fredrik Norling in 1905, it found its final place in the Palace in 1983. It exudes a very striking ⚡ calm power.
Another representative of Leonine sculpture 🦁 in the Swedish capital, Bacchus astride a Lion is located in front of the City Hall. Designed by Ansgar Almquist in the 19th century, the statue displays a slender representation of the animal on which young Bacchus seems to be enjoying himself. The bronze artwork is very dynamic. The movement of the protagonists is perfectly represented even if the Lion remains a bit idealized 🔥.
C. Italy: Country of the Lion
The Italian peninsula 🇮🇹 also has many, many leonine sculptures. From north to south, the felines 🦁 follow one another through the centuries and offer a multitude of representations ⚔️.
Among the most famous 🌟 are the famous Medici Lions. These were designed in the workshop of the sculptor 🧑🎨 Giovanni di Scherano Fancelli. The first work is a Roman Lion – from the 1st BC that the artists have completely reworked ⛏️. The second Lion was created from scratch 🥵 by Flaminio Vacca to match the first one.
The two animals 🦁 were placed in front of the Villa Medici in Rome as early as 1600. Their adventure did not end there and in 1789 they were moved to Florence – Loggia dei Lanzi. They were nevertheless replaced by copies ⛏️. We can still find the crowned head 👑 of the animal on the facade of the Pitti Palace or the whole feline in front of the basilica 🏛️ Santa Croce.
Let’s stay in Tuscany 🇮🇹. A well-known Lion is installed Piazza Signora in Florence. Created by Donatello around 1420, the Marzocco Statue proudly displays the coat of arms ⚜️ of the Florentine City.
This is a replica – the original 1️⃣ is in the National Museum of the Bargello – designed in dark gray sandstone – pietra serena. Commissioned by the rulers of the Republic of Florence, he holds in his paw 🐾 the emblem of the dynasty. Seated, he proudly symbolizes the power ⚜️ of the Florentine rulers who had just settled down after driving out 🩸 the Ghibellines.
More sadly, the two Lions 🦁 enthroned in front of the San Lorenzo Cathedral in Genoa present two different positions, one standing, the other lying down.
They were sculpted by Carlo Rubatto 🧑🎨 in the 19th century and have guarded the entrance to the cathedral ever since.
Finally, even though Italy 🇮🇹 has many, many other Lions, it’s impossible to talk about this theme without talking about Venice. The city of the Doges have several examples of sculptures in the effigy 🦁 of this animal.
To all lords 👑, all honor, the famous Lion of St. Mark’s Basilica. The golden sculpture stands out perfectly on a starry blue background. Placed above the entrance portal 🚪, this set is undeniably close to the Byzantine style that reigns supreme ⚡ throughout the building.
The Lion 🦁 here represents St. Mark – as we have already mentioned. This one holds an open book with his left paw, which he presents to the visitors. Each of its paws 🐾 rests on a stone base. The animal is winged, a very common symbolism to represent the patron saint of the city 🛡️.
It is found, moreover, on one of the bas-reliefs of the basilica ⛪ on the Venetian Piazzetta with the large winged Lion in Bronze 🟡 surmounting the central column. This model takes a Hellenistic representation – IV/III centuries BC – of the Lion. This statue is in fact a restoration 🚧 of the XIIIth century of an ancient model.
Venice has more Lions this time without wings 🦋.
Thus, the four animals 🦁 that sit at the entrance of the Arsenal. These marble sculptures have a rich history as they come from Greece. It was the future doge of Venice – Francesco Morosini – who brought the works back 🎨 the 17 Th. century.
D. The British Lion Figures
The British territory is heavily occupied ⚔️ by representations of Lions. We know the famous Lions of Trafalgar Square – Landseer’s Lions -, but others are present throughout the country 🇬🇧 : Leeds (Lions created by William Keyworth and located in front of the City Hall), Liverpool (St George’s Hall, sculptor: W.G. Nicholl), Buckingham (Water Gate, Victoria Embankment)…
London presents several felines 🦁 : Lower Thames Street, Chiswick House or on the Rochester Bridge.
Standing, sitting or lying down, the Lion exudes the quiet strength of the country 🇬🇧, its power and bravery. It can display a more dangerous character ☠️ like the giant Lion on the Berkshire Regiment’s Afghan Memorial.
The sculptor G. Simonds emphasized the powerful musculature 💪 of the animal and an impressive open mouth. It was designed in the artist’s studio in 1884 in two years. Worked in metal — cast iron — it remains a major Lion 🦁 of the British territory with its unusual dimensions — one of the largest in the world — but also by its unique style 💫.
There is also a more original model 🌟 the Lion on which a young woman is sitting. The woman 👩 dressed represents Britannia and fits perfectly with the lion symbolism. There are various examples including the group of the sculptor Marochetti ⚒️ in Waterloo Place or the Glasgow Lion (Lord Clyde monument). When the girl is naked, it is no longer Britannia but Una. A creation 🦁 from the poem Una and the Lion by British poet Edmund Spenser ✍️.
E. American Lion Monuments
It’s time to leave Europe and discover the American Lions 🇺🇸!
Among the most mentioned – and known – by the locals, the Lions 🦁 of Washington DC hold a major place. A pair can be found in front of Nation’s Capital – fans of the series House of Cards will have recognized them in the credits 📺.
There are two recumbent animals of rare pride 🎖️ adorning either side of the Columbus fountain in front of the train station. Made ⚒️ in the workshop of American sculptor Lorado Taft in the early 20th century (1912), the sculptural group impresses with its majesty 🦁.
Another pair of Lions are those of the Temple House 🏛️. Almost contemporary to their counterparts at the train station, these Lions were inspired to sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman by the Egyptian Sphinx. But they are not the only ones since the capital has a total of 12 🙀! A few meters away from them, you can observe another pair of Lions 🦁, carved in sandstone and taking up the canons of Egyptian art 🇪🇬.
It is as a group that we find the Lions of the Taft Bridge. Imagined by the sculptor Roland Hinton Perry 👨🎨, they adorned the bridge a few decades and then suffered the ravages of time ☂️ and clumsy restorations.
In 2000, the sculptor Reinaldo Lopez-Carrizo 👨🎨 decided to melt them down and recreate them using the original molds in which bronze was melted 🔥.
Let’s finish this little overview of Lion sculptures 🦁 in the American capital with the oldest leonine sculptures in the place: they are the felines located just in front of the White House – Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Canova Lions – named after the creator – were installed in 1860. The animals visible 👁️ today are actually just copies. The original artworks 🎭 were created in marble in 1792.
F. French Lion Sculptures
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that lion cubs were all stillborn ⚱️ and that all it took was the breath of their mothers to bring them back to life. It is therefore not surprising 🤷 that the animal can be found at the feet 🐾 of many lying people.
Thus, if we walk in the basilica ⛪ of Saint-Denis, we can observe the animal at the feet of King Philip III the Bold but also of John the son of Louis I, Count of Etampes. The recumbent of Philip III 👑 was sculpted in 1307 by John of Arras. The feet 🦶 of the sovereign rest on the animal 🦁 whose head and mane are represented with many details.
A replica saw the light of day in Paris 🗼 — place Denfert-Rochereau, the main actor of the revolt — but also in Canada (Dorchester Square in Montreal). The Parisian sculpture was acquired by the city hall in 1880 after Bartholdi exhibited a miniature version of his Lion Belfortain 🦁 at the 1878 sculpture fair.
The gaze of the King of the Animals 👑 goes to the Statue of Liberty, work of the same sculptor. Its dimensions are less imposing than the original since it is 4 m high and 7 m long. It was registered as a historical monument in 2003 👏.