Height : 67,5 cm

Width : 89 cm

Depth : 15 cm


Marble from the Bronzetto quarry





Back to furniture



Bas-relief in Bronzetto marble of a lion of the leone marciano andante type. A crenellated motif runs along the entire perimeter of the plaque. The lion, exceptionally modeled, places its right front paw on a book. Its head is depicted facing forward, and its gaze is directed towards the viewer.

In the 9th century, as the city of Venice seized the relics of the evangelist Mark and proclaimed him its patron saint, it also adopted his iconography derived from the Tetramorph. However, the winged lion gradually loses its religious connotation, overshadowed by the political dimension of the motif. Indeed, the 13th century, which witnessed Venice asserting its independence, seeking to break free from Byzantium on one side and the Holy Roman Empire on the other, also marked the beginning of an increasing use of the winged lion as a symbol of the Serenissima.

During the Renaissance, the figure of the winged lion is ubiquitous in the city. It stands in the round on columns or in churches, as a fresco in palaces and inns, in bas-relief on wells, bridges, or on the facades of residences. Potentially serving an apotropaic function, it is above all the expression of an insular community that proudly claims its power and identity through the animal figure.

This striking bas-relief likely adorned the facade of a wealthy urban residence. The artisan’s work, gradually bringing the beast out of the stone, is remarkable. The modeling of the animal grows progressively from the paws anchored in the material to the top of the mane and wings that extend well forward of the plaque, creating a slight overhang dominating the viewer. The sculptor conferred a lifelike effect to the animal through the realism of its muscles and skin, revealing the ribs.

The crenellated frame, contributing to its emergence from the wall, isolating it from its surroundings like a street painting, is widely exploited in the bas-reliefs of Venice, starting from the trecento. It demonstrates remarkable longevity, as it is still found around bas-reliefs from the 20th century. The physiognomy of the lion suggests a later date. With its realistic muzzle, wing design, fur lines on its front paws, and the position of its hind legs, it aligns with models from the late 15th and 16th centuries, losing the drier characteristics of previous centuries.

The Latin inscription “Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus” (Peace be with you, Mark, my evangelist) is not consistently the one engraved in the book of the leoni marciani. It refers to the legend that an angel appeared to Mark, giving him peace and predicting that his body would rest in the lagoon. Ostensibly displayed, it also serves to remind the Republic of Venice, the “chosen” territory, of the assurance of tranquility.

In the 16th century, Venice’s influence extended well beyond the lagoon and developed on the mainland to the west and around the Adriatic Sea. A policy of expansion on land and sea is expressed in the bas-relief with the waves of water to the right and solid ground beneath its paws. Victims of iconoclastic fervor in the late 18th century, the leoni marciani suffered greatly, particularly in Venice, and perhaps this sculpture was spared, sealed on the facade of a residence distant from the political center of the Serenissima, in the inland areas.



RIZZI Alberto, I Leoni di San Marco: il simbolo della Repubblica Veneta nella scultura e nella pittura, Vol I – II, 2001

RIZZI Alberto, I Leoni di San Marco: il simbolo della Repubblica Veneta nella scultura e nella pittura, Vol III, 2012

RUSKIN John, Les Pierres de Venise, trad. Mathilde Crémieux, Hermann, 2010