Lion Statues Outside of the Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

According to the legendary myth of Bellerophon and Pegasus, the Chimera terrorized the city where it lived until it was slain by the great hero. The statute is said to be relatively 'stereotypical.' "The posture of the beast, with the mouth open, the body arching up, and the legs stiffly stretched forward, is always the same. It seems that the ancient artists who took up the task of painting or sculpting a Chimera thought that it was their duty to be as faithful as possible to the well-known and accepted canons" (Bardi 1997).

Similarly, the lions adorning the front of the Corcoran Gallery could be said to be fairly typical of depictions of reclining lions (there is no notable innovation in their features and manner) although it is somewhat unusual that unlike most guardian lions they are not standing and alert, and do not show any particular signs of either pride or fierceness. The Chimera, in contrast, is very fierce and belligerent in its posture. It is clearly waiting to strike, in the manner it arches its back and snarls at the gazer. Its eyes are hollow, which give it a kind of inhuman, furious quality. Its mouth, unlike that of the lions', is wide open and menacing. Its mane is spiky and looks like a weapon itself. The less terrifying goat's head attached to its body curls back and gives the monster an otherworldly quality. There is none of the domesticity of the Cochran lions.

However, like the original inspiration of the Corcoran Gallery of Art lions, the Chimera was originally used as a work of religious significance. The Chimera is inscribed with the words 'For Tinia,' indicating it was designed as an offering to the Etruscan god. To the modern eye, it looks strange that a monster could be a religious offering ("The Chimera of Arezzo," The Getty Museum, 2011). "The fiery, fire breathing monster is shown as a lean, perhaps hungry, creature in a moment of suffering. The body is curled in a posture that reminds that of an angry cat, while the mouth is open as if screaming, with the goat's head is reclining down and drops of blood appear on the neck" (Bardi 1997).

At the time of the Chimera's construction, the Etruscans were being conquered by the Romans, so perhaps there is a hidden political protest in the figure's design: 'it looks like a fighter, a fighter who has fought well but who is losing nevertheless" (Bardi 1997). And ultimately, the more subdued lions in front of the Cochran Gallery are the more powerful figures. They do not need to menace passers-by because their strength is assumed in their posture -- if they were roused, one flick with their paw could conquer any opponent. The Chimera, in contrast, looks hunted and wild, and given the time when it was constructed and its inscription, it was clearly created to convey a particular political and religious intention and to communicate it to the world. It was not created to welcome people, like the lions, but to keep people out.

Works Cited

Bardi, Ugo. "The Chimera of Arezzo." 2002. [3 Dec 2011].

http://www3.unifi.it/surfchem/solid/bardi/chimera/chimarezzo.html

"The Chimera of Arezzo." The Getty Museum of Art. [3 Dec 2011].

http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/chimaera/english.html

"The Corcoran Gallery of Art." National Park Service (NPS) [3 Dec 2011].

http://www.nps.gov/nhl/designations/samples/dc/corcoran.pdf

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Bardi, Ugo. "The Chimera of Arezzo." 2002. [3 Dec 2011].

http://www3.unifi.it/surfchem/solid/bardi/chimera/chimarezzo.html

"The Chimera of Arezzo." The Getty Museum of Art. [3 Dec 2011].

http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/chimaera/english.html

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