top of page

Sleeping (Recumbent) Lions

After Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757-1822)
Cast Iron
Ca. 1850-1860
L. 3’6”

The two lions in this pair truly complement each other. While not identical statues, they are similar in that one lion is resting and the other is sleeping. It is believed that this pair of lions was placed here when the house was completed in 1853. They were in place by the beginning of the Civil War.

The statues are copies of the famous Italian sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822). They were created in 1792 for the Monumental tomb of Pope Clement XIII in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

These lions appear in the 1858 Wood & Perot Catalogue as numbers H. and J.; and in the 1870 catalog of the same company [1]. Additionally, lions of this style appear in the 1873 New York City Directory in an engraving of the storefront of the Composite Iron Works Company (aka J. B. Wickersham). One of the sleeping lions appears in the ca. 1857 catalog of the same company [2]. Similar catalogs from the same period featured only one of the lions, such as the 1870 Janes, Kirtland & Company catalog, suggesting that occasionally only one lion was displayed.

[1] Wood, Robert Wood & Co. Portfolio of original designs of ornamental iron work by Robert Wood & Co. (Philadelphia, Pa.) ca. 1867-70, Winterthur Museum Library internet archive
[2] Gayle, Margot. Victorian Ironwork: A Catalogue by J. B. Wickersham, with a new introduction by Margot Gayle. Athenaeum Library of Nineteenth Century America, Philadelphia, 1977.

bottom of page