Statue of a Leopard



Statue of what Henry Blundell identified as a tigress but more likely to be a leopard with the characteristic small head, rounded ears, long tail and large paws and the irregular spotting although in the statue is light on dark rather than dark on light as in nature. The animal seems to be resting although she has a certain alertness as suggested by the lift and turn of the head towards her right shoulder. Her expression is almost humane especially the contraction of her brow. She has a ram's head under the right paw. The animal is also a mother as it is suggested by her underside breasts. She may have killed because she needed to feed her offspring. The body is made of grey spotted granite and the eyes of yellow marble, called 'giallo antico'. Blundell recorded in his Account that it was found with two Egyptian vases in a vineyard near the Porta Portese in Rome. This type of statue may have been used as a grave monument. Elizabeth Bartman suggested that the inspiration may have come from Egyptian statues of lions, examples of which were also in Rome. The Romans used realistic representation of animals to allude to the pastoral or divine realms. The closest example is a leopard from Ptolemais which was used as a fountain ornament in the frigarium of the 1st century AD Palazzo delle Colonne.