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image BR13

Lion monopodium leg from a Roman tripod stand or table

Brown alabaster

Height: 52cm
Length (side): 13cm

Museum number: BR13

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 243help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The leg is carved into an Abyssinian lion's head at the top, curves outwards from a vertical backing ending in a carved ring, and terminates in a paw at the foot.

The character of the rectangular backing and the bracket ring suggest the use of this type of leg in tripod arrangements rather than for four-legged tables. The fastening loop is too delicate to have enabled the leg to have been used in a chair1.

An amusing variant of the standard Roman decorative animal-form furniture leg is a table leg in the Louvre, Paris, with reserves formed of the head and body of a Seilenos with hands on hips and terminating in the conventional lion's paw. The so-called 'Throne of Dagobert I' in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, a folding-type curule throne, shows the use of this animal-foot motive in furniture of the early Middle Ages2. In the other chronological direction, a small Archaic ivory from Corinth shows that the trapezephoros form had evolved in Greek art prior to its widespread Hellenistic use3.

1 Compare H.S. Jones, Catalogue of Ancient Sculptures Preserved in the Municipal Collections of Rome: Museo Capitolino, Oxford, 1912, p. 156, Sala Delle Colombe, no. 42, pl. 35, for a similar 'Tripod, or table leg' found c.1743 in a vineyard belonging to S. Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome.
2 G. Janneau, Les Sièges, Paris, 1967, I, p. 18, fig. 7.
3 American Journal of Archaeology XXIX, 1925, p. 391, pl. IV.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Rome; collected in Rome by Charles Heathcote Tatham for the architect Henry Holland during the 1790s. See Cornelius Vermeule, unpublished catalogue of the Antiquities at Sir John Soane's Museum, Introduction, transcription of Tatham letters, List 1, no. 30.

Literature

Tatham: Etchings, 2; Drawings, 6.


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk