Lion Attacking a Bull

Object Details


Lion Attacking a Bull


Antonio Susini (Italian, active 1572 - 1624)
or Giovanni Francesco Susini (Italian, 1585 - 1653)
after models by Giambologna (Giovanni da Bologna or Jean de Boulogne) (Flemish, 1529 - 1608)




Italy (Place created)


first quarter of 17th century




20.3 × 27.3 cm (8 × 10 3/4 in.)

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As the lion sinks his teeth into the bull's side, the bull falls to his knees, straining his neck to reach his attacker. This sculpture is one of a pair of tabletop bronzes that show a wild beast brutally killing a domesticated animal. Although the pair are based on antique models, the animal subject and intense emotionalism are characteristic of the late 1500s and early 1600s.

In a play of space and movement, the Mannerist sculptor Giambologna arranged the figures' limbs in a circle. Although the piece has a principal frontal view, the animals yield a variety of different views as a spectator walks around the sculpture. The artist endowed the work with vivid details: the graphically rendered skin pulled by the lion's claws, the taut muscles of the bull's legs, and the longer hair on the top of the bull's head, carefully distinguished from the shorter fur around his flared nostrils.

After Giambologna sculpted the model, Antonio and/or Giovanni Francesco Susini's bronze foundry cast the sculpture. In his biography of Giambologna, Filippo Baldinucci mentions the pair of animal bronzes, but they may have been cast after Giambologna's death as the Susini continued using his models for many years.

- about 1738

Beauvais Collection (England) [sold: Collection of Mr. Beauvais, 2 March 1738 or 1739 to Sir Jacob des Bouverie.]


Sir Jacob Bouverie, third Bart. (father of the first earl of Radnor), 1694 - 1761 (Longford Castle, near Salisbury, Wiltshire), by descent to Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 1761.

- 1993

Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, eighth earl of Radnor, born 1927 [sold, Christie's London, 7 December 1993, lot 108, to Cyril Humphris.]

1993 - 1994

Cyril Humphris, S.A. (London), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.

Lion Attacking a Horse from the Capitoline Museums, Rome (August 10, 2012 to May 6, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), August 10, 2012 to May 6, 2013

Alberge, D. "Bronzes to Secure Future of House." Independent (September 16, 1993), p. 4.

Checkland, S. J. "Repair Bills Force Sale of Statues." Times (September 17, 1993), p. 16.

G.T. "Handel und Auktionen." Kunst und Antiquitäten, no. 12 ([December] 1993), p. 61.

"Casting A Wider Net." Art and Auction 17 (December 1994), p. 74.

Melikian, Souren. "A Tale of Shrinking Supply." Art and Auction 16 (March 1994), pp. 70, 76.

"Works of Art Sales: Giambolognas Give Christie's a Small Edge." The Art Newspaper 34 (January 1994), p. 26.

"Acquisitions/1994." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 23 (1995), p. 122, no. 102, ill.

Melikian, Souren. "Acquisitions: Sculpture." J. Paul Getty Museum Calendar (winter 1994-95), unpaginated.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 48-49, 76, ill.

Bassett, Jane, and Peggy Fogelman. Looking at European Sculpture: A Guide to Technical Terms (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 19.

Christie's, London. Sale Catalogue. 1 July 1997, lot 73 (mentioned in passing).

Fusco, Peter, Peggy Anne Fogelman, and Marietta Cambareri. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: European Sculpture (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998), pp. 44-45, no. 13, ill., entry by Peggy Anne Fogelman.

Fogelman, Peggy, and Peter Fusco, with Marietta Cambareri. Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), pp. 177-189, ills. 23, 23G-23H.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 218, ill.