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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts
in Europe

The British Museum lion

Height: 35.100 cm
Length: 10.200 cm (base)
Width: 10.200 cm (base)

M&ME 1983,12-5,1

The British Museum lion

From: London, England
Date: AD 1852

When the British Museum needed some new railings in 1852, lions were chosen to decorate them. A sculptor called Alfred Stevens carved the lions, copying a cat that belonged to a friend of his - real lions don't actually sit up like this.

From his carving a mould was made and molten iron was then poured into the mould. Molten iron is iron that has been heated until it melts. This was done 25 times to produce 25 identical lions. The lions are no longer there as the railings were taken down in 1895, but the Museum kept this one and he is now on display in the gallery.