This delightful figure was purchased in Italy by Brownlow, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793) whilst on his first Grand Tour in 1763.
It was subsequently recorded in the 1763 Burghley Inventory: ‘in the dining room, 4 George room, Fig. of a Lion Marble found at Ostia 1725 upon ye chimney’.
The lion was always thought to be 1st or 2nd Century Roman, but it is more likely to be an 18th Century replica inspired by, and copied from, the antique.
Grand Tourists, particularly in the 18th Century, were fascinated by the ancient world and were seeking to buy antiquities on a massive scale, at a time when many were being rediscovered.
The supply was not inexhaustible and the temptation to fill the gap no doubt tempting for those with the skill to do so.
Height :16.5cm, length : 23cm.