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Work Lion attacking a Bull

Department of Decorative Arts: 17th century

Cloak for a Knight of the Order of the Holy Spirit

© 1993 RMN / Martine Beck-Coppola

Decorative Arts
17th century

Author(s):
Baratte Sophie

Bronze group cast using the lost wax process, inspired by classical marble groups and created originally by Giovanni da Bologna (Giambologna) c.1580. Together with its companion piece, Lion attacking a Horse, it was listed in an inventory of a collection drawn up in 1611. This group was cast by Antonio Susini, whose signature is found under the hoof of the bull's right hindleg. Formerly part of the Crown Bronze collection, it also bears the inscription "No. 19" on the left of the bull's rump.

Subject and background history

Like its companion piece, Lion attacking a Horse, this group was inspired by classical marble sculpture. Giovanni da Bologna supplied the models, as testified by an inventory of 1611. The group entitled Lion attacking a Horse in the Detroit Institute of Art may have been conceived as the pendant for the Louvre bronze.
Purchased by Louis XIV in 1663 at the sale of the collection of Louis Cauchon d'Hesselin, advisor to the king, it was listed in the royal furniture registry until the French Revolution and was sent to the Museum in 1797. In 1906, it was transferred to the Louvre on the initiative of prime minister Georges Clémenceau.

Caster and sculptor

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, poured in liquid form, in the process known as casting, into a mould made from a clay or wax model. Giovanni da Bologna, also known as Giambologna (1529-1608), spent his entire career in Italy, mainly in Florence, in the service of the Medici. One of the greatest of all Mannerist sculptors, he created numerous models for small bronzes. Although Vasari claimed he did not cast these himself, some bear his signature. Antonio Susini (known to have been in Florence in 1572-1624) cast bronzes in Giovanni da Bologna's workshop until the early seventeenth century.

A royal collection

After the manner of the Italian Renaissance princes, Louis XIV felt himself duty-bound to own a collection of bronze statuettes that would demonstrate his interest in Renaissance humanism. He purchased part of the Hesselin Collection and commissioned a number of works from Italy. The king subsequently lost interest in his collection, which continued to be enriched by donations and bequests. Various inventories were drawn up until 1791.

Technical description

  • Paris (17th century)

    Cloak for a Knight of the Order of the Holy Spirit

  • Embroidered black velvet

  • Possibly made for Louis XIII or Louis XIV

    CL 18561

  • Decorative Arts

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Additional information about the work

Signed ANT/SUSI/NI FCrown Bronze bearing the inscription "No. 19"