Marzocco lion thumbnail 1
Marzocco lion thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46b, The Weston Cast Court

Marzocco lion

Plaster Cast
1418-1420 (sculpted), ca. 1895 (cast)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Both the lion itself and the lily on the shield are symbols of Florence. The origin of the term Marzocco is obscure, but it may derive from Mars (Marte), the pagan protector of Florence, or possibly from St Mark, whose symbol is a lion. This early work by Donatello was much admired both because of its inherent quality, and because it can be seen as a symbol of the Florentine renaissance.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Plaster cast, painted plaster
Brief Description
Plaster cast, painted plaster, after the sandstone lion originally in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence and now in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello), Florence, by Donatello, Florence, 1418-20. Cast by Giuseppe Lelli, in Florence, around 1895.
Physical Description
Plaster cast of Lion after original sandstone, the shield inlaid with coloured stones. This cast was taken from the original sandstone statue of a lion by Donatello housed in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello), Florence.
Gallery Label
The Marzocco is a heraldic lion that is a symbol of Florence. The name may derive from Mars, the protector of the city, or possibly from St Mark, whose symbol is a lion. Donatello's sculpture of the lion was an early work, which came to symbolise the Renaissance in Florence. It was much admired in the late 19th century, when the cast was made.(2014)
Object history
Purchased from Giuseppe Lelli in 1896 for £14 10s 10d
Historical context
Both the lion itself and the lily on the shield are symbols of Florence, the red lily on the white ground being the emblem of the Guelph party. The origin of the term "Marzocco" is obscure, but it has been suggested that it derives from Mars (Marte), the pagan protector of Florence. It is conjectured that when the statue of Mars was swept from the Ponte Vecchio in the flood of 1333, it was replaced by a lion called Martocus, or the little Mars. The Marzocco originally decorated the staircase in the apartments in S. Maria Novello which were built for the visit of Pope Martin V in 1419-20. The lion was removed from this position when the staircase was demolished, possibly as early as 1515. During the restoration of the Palazzo Vecchio in 1812, Donatello's Marzocco was used to replace another earlier image of the Marzocco outside the Palazzo Vecchio. In 1885, Donatello's lion was transferred to the Museo Nazionale, and replaced by a copy.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Both the lion itself and the lily on the shield are symbols of Florence. The origin of the term Marzocco is obscure, but it may derive from Mars (Marte), the pagan protector of Florence, or possibly from St Mark, whose symbol is a lion. This early work by Donatello was much admired both because of its inherent quality, and because it can be seen as a symbol of the Florentine renaissance.



Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1896-2

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record createdDecember 7, 1999
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