Mosaic with a donkey nursing lion cubs

Roman or modern
Imperial Period or modern
3rd century A.D.

Place of Manufacture: North Africa


Overall: 80 x 154 cm (31 1/2 x 60 5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Mosaic: of marble, limestone, and glass cubes (tesserae)

Not On View


The Ancient World



This example of foster-mothering with different species would not have been a success; the donkey’s milk would not have been rich enough for the young carnivores, who would have become progressively weaker unless some other nourishment was found for them. The experiment could have been a staged event in an arena or a wild animal farm. The sponsor of the cross-fostering probably had it depicted, and others would have wanted copies of the memorable scene.


By 1960: with Münzen und Medaillen AG, Malzgasse 25, Basel, Switzerland (according to a letter from Herbert Cahn of Münzen und Medaillen, he: bought [the mosaic] from somebody in Casablanca who in his turn had [it] from Tunisia.); May 11, 1960: purchased by MFA from Münzen und Medaillen AG for $ 3,000.00

Credit Line

Gift of the Class of the Museum of Fine Arts, Mrs. Arthur L. Devens, Chairman