Handle of a chest: lion's head

Imperial Period
about A.D. 200

Catalogue Raisonné

Greek, Etruscan, & Roman Bronzes (MFA), no. 673; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 127 (additional published references).


Length (max.):18.5 cm (7 5/16 in.); diameter of lion:12.5 cm (4 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



This flamboyant lion and three companions from the same series of molds were attached by iron rivets to the body of a wooden chest or sarcophagus. One is described as the following: the pupils, deeply hollowed out, as well as the flamelike treatment of the mane as a sort of solar disk background, indicate a date in the third century A.D. The lion with a ring in his mouth for lifting the lid or body of a sarcophagus was a standard decoration in the second and third centuries A.D. Iron rust (from the three nails) on green patina.


According to C. Vermeule, Classical Journal 58, October 1962, this is one of a group of four handles found a number of years ago in Syria (a second handle from the group is MFA 63.631); by date unknown: with Hesperia Art, 2219 St. James Place, Philadelphia 3, Pa.; date unknown: purchased from Hesperia Art by Mrs. Cornelius C. Vermeule, Jr.; gift of Mrs. Cornelius C. Vermeule, Jr. to MFA, December 13, 1961

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Cornelius C. Vermeule, Jr.