Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1796–1875)
Lion and Serpent, modeled 1833
Bronze, 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 X 15 1/2 in.
Barye turned the minor genre of animal sculpture into a major category in 19th-century art, inspiring a host of followers. He carefully studied and drew animals at Paris’s zoo and markets and attended dissections. The best of his sculptures surpass mere description and resonate with human passion and conflict. Lion and Serpent has also been read as an allegorical representation of King Louis-Philippe’s (reigned 1830–1848) rise to power during the July revolution of 1830. The noble lion, representing the new King and the people of France, is shown in a triumphant struggle against the serpent, symbolizing Charles X (reigned 1824–1830) and the ousted Bourbon dynasty.