At A Glance
The first sculpture installed in Rittenhouse Square
Barye is today esteemed as the founder of the Parisian “animaliers”
Although his contemporaries criticized his style and his choice of animal subjects, Barye is today esteemed as the founder of the Parisian animaliers.
The political symbolism of the lion of monarchy crushing the evil serpent was applauded…
He worked at a time of widespread public hope that the ruling government could be made liberal and responsive to its citizens. His choice of bronze over marble and his use of animals as symbols for human emotions were both considered radical.
The political symbolism of the lion of monarchy crushing the evil serpent was applauded by Louis Philippe, who made Barye a knight of the Legion of Honor in 1833. Later Barye was appointed professor of zoological drawing at the Museum of Natural History, where Auguste Rodin studied with him.
F. Barbedienne, whose foundry cast the Lion, interested Thomas Hockley, chairman of the Fairmount Park Art Association’s (now the Association for Public Art) Committee of Works of Art, in the sculpture. Hockley circulated subscription books in 1885, and six years later payment was made for a cast of the work, which was the first sculpture installed in Rittenhouse Square.
Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).
Voices heard in the Museum Without Walls: AUDIO program: Judith F. Dolkart is the former Deputy Director of Art and Archival Collections and Gund Family Chief Curator of the Barnes Foundation. She organized an exhibition “Michelangelo of the Menagerie: Bronze Works by Antoine-Louis Barye” at the Brooklyn Museum. Kay Buffamonte is the Lead Keeper of the “Big Cat Falls” at the Philadelphia Zoo. Steven Tatti is the Chief Conservator for SAT Inc. He has been cleaning, waxing, and buffing this sculpture since the early 1980s. | Segment Producer: Jenna Weiss-Berman
Museum Without Walls: AUDIO is the Association for Public Art’s award-winning audio program for Philadelphia’s outdoor sculpture. Available for free by phone, mobile app, or online, the program features more than 150 voices from all walks of life – artists, educators, civic leaders, historians, and those with personal connections to the artworks.
This artwork is part of the Around Rittenhouse Square tour