Statue of a Leopard


About this object

Statue of what 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'.
Bartman suggested that the inspiration may have come from Egyptian statues of lions examples of which were also in Rome. The Roman used realistic representation of animals to allude to the pastoral or divine realms.

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.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
  • Materials
    Granite; Marble
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Weston Discovery Centre
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    880 mm; x 34 5/8 in
  • Note
    Blundell identified it wrongly as a tigress but this would not be something that was common in Roman art. Bartman suggested that 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. Smaller leopards in darker marble are in the Vatican.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

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Previous owners

  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
Object view = Humanities
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