A 19th Century Minton Parian figure group 'Una and The Lion'


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White Parian statuette of Una and the Lion with full-length nude female figure sitting cross-legged on cloak on back of a lion; female with long hair looking out; Raised on rectangular plinth.

Minton Impressed marks to underside. Dated 1857.

In very good order. Small repair to foot.

Width 36cm. Height 37cm. Depth 16cm.

This Parian-ware statuette was produced by Minton & Co. for Summerly's Art Manufactures from 1847 to the 1860s. The composition of Una and the the Lion is an original one, conceived and modelled by the sculptor John Bell (1881-1895) but the subject is taken from Edmund Spenser's poem Faerie Queen(1590). Una had earlier been associated with Queen Victoria, when William Wyon designed the £5 coin that depicted 'her majesty as Una, holding the scepter, with her guardian the lion, emblem of England'. Bell produced a full-size marble of Una and the Lion (now lost), which was shown at the Great Exhibition and then put on long-term display at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham. Although it is often assumed that the Parian-ware is a reduction of a full-size marble piece, in this instance the statuette predated the larger sculpture, in part, due to the success and high public demand for the Parian-ware original.

This piece was marketed as a companion piece to another statuette entitled Ariadne and Panther (RCIN 52319), again modelled by Bell but copied from an original by the German sculptor Johann Heinrich Dannecker (1758-1841). Contemporary advertisements indicate that the Ariadne group was on sale before Una and the Lion, and thus probably provided the inspiration for the production of the pair.