St Mark’s Small Square
Bronze, 226 cm
The bronze statue, a symbol of Venice, that stands out above the column of Egyptian granite at the jetty of St Mark’s Square is associated with both artistic myth and history.
The symbol of the lion is linked to Mark the Evangelist, patron of Venice, after the Venetian merchants bizarrely stole the body in Alexandria at the start of the 9th century. The remains of the saint served to justify the sanctity and the supremacy, also in religious terms, of the newly founded Venice.
The Lion was taken to the lagoon during the 12th century. It remained on the column until the arrival of Napoleon who moved it to Paris. When it returned to Venice in 1815 it fell and was rebuilt. It was moved from its pedestal only at the end of the 1800s for restoration and during the Second World War to make it safe.
The Lion was the subject of an analytical study and careful restoration work in the 1990s.