Much of the sculpture created byneoclassical artist Bertel Thordvaldsenis in his home country ofDenmark, as is the case of his famous Jason and the Golden Fleece or his Ganymede and the Eagle. However, thisMonument to the Lion of Lucerneis one of his works located abroad, specifically inSwitzerland.
Lion of Lucerne Monument
It is also true that this is not a sculpture itself, but rather a huge relief carved on a sandstone rock. And it even seems proven that Thordvaldsen was only commissioned to design it in 1819 during his stay in Rome, while the work of carving it was carried out by a German stonemason named Lucas Ahorn (1789-1856), who would finish it a couple of years later.
In one way or another it is a great work, even literally, since it is a monument that reaches 10 meters long by another 6 meters high. Considerable dimensions and worthy of the motif that inspires the work, since this figure of a dying lion is intended to evoke the courage of the Swiss Guards who died during one of the bloodiest episodes of the French Revolution, when 1792 hundreds of Swiss soldiers fell defending the Palace of the Tuileries in Pariss against the push of the revolutionaries.
This is how the symbology ofthe figure. Since it is a mortally wounded lion, in which we see the spear stuck in his side, but above all the pain on his face is appreciated. And you can also see two shields next to it, one with the cross of the Swiss flag and the other with the fleur-de-lis, symbol of the French monarchy.
In addition to that, the inscription on the rock refers to the "loy alty and bravery of the Swiss", as well as the names of those killed in that battle, specifying that 760 died and only 350 survived.
That episode caused a great stir in the country, despite the fact that one of the characteristics of the Swiss Guard had always been that they were mercenary soldiers who fought alongside the highest bidder. For this reason, when an officer of that army began to ask for money to build the monument, it was not very difficult for him to obtain the necessary amount for its realization.
And the result is certainly spectacular, and perhaps one of the most expressive works of Bertel Thordvaldsen. In fact, one of the best definitions of this sculpture was written by the American writer Mark Twain, who in his book A Wanderer Abroad defined it as: