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Lion Crushing a Serpent

1832 by Antoine-Louis Barye

Lion Crushing a Serpent

Lion Crushing a Serpent in Rittenhouse Square. Credit: M. McClellan for GPTMC


French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye helped establish a 19th-century school known as the animaliers, artists who focused on animal subjects, frequently as stand-ins for human emotions. Barye’s portrayal of a lion subduing a serpent illustrates his fondness for dramatic animal battles.

The lion, however, is not an ordinary beast. It represents the French monarchy, and the serpent is a universal symbol of evil. Hence this sculpture convinced the French king to name Barye to the Legion of Honor.

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