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Lion Crushing a Snake

Antoine-Louis Barye

European Art

Antoine-Louis Barye was renowned for his anatomically accurate animal sculptures, which often portray scenes of predatory violence. After this composition debuted in plaster at the 1833 Salon, the government commissioned a large bronze version to place outside the Tuileries Palace. The subject was understood as a political allegory about King Louis-Philippe’s rise to power in the July Revolution of 1830. The noble lion, the zodiac sign for July, represented the new king and the people of France, while the snake he defeats symbolized the despotic reign of his predecessor, King Charles X.

Throughout his life Barye spent hours sketching and dissecting animals at the Jardin des Plantes zoo and Museum of Natural History, colonial institutions that enabled him to study animals from around the world without leaving Paris.
MEDIUM Bronze
  • Place Made: France
  • DIMENSIONS With base: 10 1/2 x 8 x 13 1/2 in. (26.7 x 20.3 x 34.3 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS On underside, in orange crayon (?): CJL
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    ACCESSION NUMBER 10.178
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by Special Subscription
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1795-1875). Lion Crushing a Snake. Bronze, With base: 10 1/2 x 8 x 13 1/2 in. (26.7 x 20.3 x 34.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by Special Subscription, 10.178. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 10.178_front_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 10.178_front_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1795-1875). <em>Lion Crushing a Snake</em>. Bronze, With base: 10 1/2 x 8 x 13 1/2 in. (26.7 x 20.3 x 34.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by Special Subscription, 10.178. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 10.178_front_PS2.jpg)