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Lion Attacking a Bull
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Attributed to Antonio Susini, sculptor; or Giovanni Francesco Susini, sculptor; after a model by Giambologna, sculptor
Italian, Florence, 1600 - 1625
Bronze
8 x 10 3/4 in.
94.SB.11.2

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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.

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Lion
Lion's claw and bite marks


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