The finely detailed lion has a recumbent head, turned sharply to the left and facing forward, his right forepaw detailed from the back, and his left forepaw resting above the right one. The powerfully carved head possesses a stylized mane and ruff. Finely executed and very rare, particularly due to the large scale and beautiful condition.
This lion is among a group that were probably inspired by the monumental lion carved during the reign of Nectanebo (380 – 362 B.C.), now in the Vatican, Museo Gregoriano Egizio. For related examples, see Mildenberg Collection, no. 51, also Sotheby’s Abemayer collection, no. 302, another, Egyptomania, no. 208, now in the Louvre. Here Christine Ziegler noted that, “the sense of movement and suppleness emanating from these cats contrast with rigidity of the pharonic sphinxes and has long intrigued the experts”.
Cf: Lot 60, Christie’s London, April 2014; no. 104, Sotheby’s auction, The Charles Pankow Collection of Egyptian Art, 2004 (but smaller scale, 10 3/4 inches), no. 193, Sotheby’s 2001 auction (similar large example, but complete 49 1/2 inches, est. $100,000 – $150,000, realized $154,250). See also cat. no. 51, pp. 130-131, Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum, Edna, Russmann.