The statue of the Lion depicts a winged beast in bronze (once golden) with a full mane, advancing with jaws wide open.
In 1815 on return from the raid on Napoleon, it fell and broke into many pieces. It was restored by the sculptor Bartolomeo Ferrari who recomposed it with iron bars and square head nails. The integrations and restorations at the start of the 19th century (the tail, wings, part of the paws and a tuft on the head) are clearly recognizable. Also the book under the paws is reconstructed in lead. The current wings are also the result of restoration work.
The figure, particularly the head, the chest and the sides are substantially original and in good condition.
In the past it was believed to be Romanesque, Assyrian, Indian, Chinese and Sassanid: for stylistic and technical reasons it certainly cannot be considered an Italian Medieval Work. As with other Venetian antiquities it originates from Constantinople or in any event from the East.
The head with two long striped moustaches, the determined and round eyebrows, the mane with stylized winding designs, contribute to a “fearful” effect with an undeniably “oriental” mark which suggests that the animal was originally a chimera.
The statue represents an icon and a symbol among the most fortunate of all time in the East and West, conferring to the winged Lion the same identity as the Venetian state. Over time the Lion has become not only the symbol but the seal and guarantee of Venetian style, reproduced on coins, banners, paintings, frescoes and on the doors and in the squares of the Venetian cities of the Mediterranean.