Crouching lion (XV – XVI century ?)
The sandstone sculpture, carved in the round, represents a headless lion crouching on a stand, in an attitude of defence. The work was discovered accidentally in the heart of the old town of Cetraro, more precisely near the Palazzo del Vicario, home of the Benedictine monks of Monte Cassino that used to be the rectors of Cetraro. It seems reasonable to say that the monastic order commissioned the sculpture, which was probably conceived to serve the usual symbolic and decorative function, with two sculptures placed on the sides of a staircase or at the entrance of some other building attached to the Palace. In this regard, it has been suggested that the sculpture, performing the function of a motionless sentinel, decorated the entrance that gave access to the premises in the area below the Palace and next to the place of discovery, nowadays walled up and buried. The work is characterized by geometric and stylized details, as in the case of the mane marked by a series of parallel engravings and the tail in relief, turned towards the back. The hypothetical reconstruction of the structure features the Lion holding his mouth half-closed and turning his head to the side, as it is usually represented at the entrance of medieval Cathedrals or in funerary monuments of the XVI century, where it represents the guardian of the eternal rest. The slight torsion of the neck that breaks the strict compositional symmetry is an element that relates to the naturalistic investigation, started in the sculptural decorations of the Gothic architecture and subsequently completed in the pre-Renaissance sculpture. The stylistic analysis suggests its origin in the Romanesque Tuscan-Emilian models, and also in the Apulian and Sicilian classicist movement promoted by Frederick II of Swabia and lately perfected by the Angevin sculptors. Therefore, as there are no pertinent data available, the work should be located, on the basis of stylistic references, in a chronological range between the XV and the XVI century, taking into account the delays that often characterize the so-called “provincial works of art”.
Before being exhibited, the work underwent a combination of chemical-mechanical interventions at the Laboratory of Archaeological Restoration of the Museum, in order to remove coherent and incoherent deposits that undermined its proper readability.
Restoration Information – 02/01/2013
Technique: sculpted stone
Dimensions: 40 cm x 20 cm
Place of discovery: the old town of Cetraro (CS)
Preservation and restoration on animal figure (lion).
Phases of Restoration: photographic documentation before the intervention – dry removal of incoherent deposits (not concreted) with stiff bristle brushes – removal of coherent deposits with the aid of a scalpel with interchangeable blades (completed by mechanical dry cleaning). Chemical cleaning through solution ab57 (ISCR – basis of ammonium carbonate for attacking concretions + edta – demineralised water – sodium bicarbonate).