Figure of a Lion

A masterpiece of mannerist silversmithing

By Wawel Royal Castle

Marta Golik-Gryglas, Dariusz Nowacki, Goldsmithwork Curators

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Obiekt 3d z figurą lwaWawel Royal Castle

It was established around 1600 in Augsburg, the most important silversmith centre in modern Europe, in the workshop of Christoph Erhart, a silversmith active in the years 1565–1604.

LionWawel Royal Castle

The figure was cast from silver, the details were incised with chisel tools and entirely gilded. It is 23 cm tall and weighs 802 g.
 It represents a lion that is sat on its rump and hind legs. 

 A silhouette with perfectly modelled anatomical details and carefully prepared hair is wrapped around a tail that is bent in the shape of the letter ‘S’.

Lion, From the collection of: Wawel Royal Castle
Lion, From the collection of: Wawel Royal Castle
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The lion has a long, wavy mane, pulled down forehead, bared teeth and sharp claws.

Lion Artist's signatureWawel Royal Castle

On the outflow, under the crown, the silversmith’s marks were struck – the city of Augsburg and Christoph Erhart’s workshop.

LionWawel Royal Castle

The figure was an elaborate and precious sculpture decorating a cupboard or art camera. At the same time, it could be a luxurious toast vessel, as evidenced by the specially shaped interior, enabling the pouring of the drink, and the crown on the head acting as a stopper.

LionWawel Royal Castle

The continuous attractiveness of the figure in the mid-18th century is provided by the silver coat of arms bolted to the animal's paws.

LionWawel Royal Castle

The coat of arms of Nicolaus Friedrich Haspel von Palmenburg (1716–1790), mayor of Schwäbisch Hall, was engraved on it, probably on the occasion of his receipt of the noble title on 29 November, 1745.

Cup with CoverWawel Royal Castle

In the Wawel collection, in addition to the lion figure, there is a cup from this workshop with representations of animals.

LionWawel Royal Castle

The Wawel lion was purchased for the collection from a private collector in 2021 and is on permanent display in the Crown Treasury.

Credits: Story

Curator of the exhibition
Marta Golik-Gryglas, Dariusz Nowacki, Goldsmithwork Curators 

List of Photographs
Photography Department, Wawel Royal Castle

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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