The Lion of Lucerne carved in Walnut.

A very well modelled version of the Lion of Lucerne carved from walnut. Origin and date is uncertain. It certainly has age but it may be late 19th century or early 20th century. Probably Swiss and very well carved. 7 inches wide by 3.5 inches high by 2.25 inches deep ( 17.5 cms by 8.75 cms by 5.625 cms). There is a long Swiss tradition of supplying mercenaries to foreign governments. Because the Swiss have been politically neutral for centuries and have long enjoyed a reputation for honoring their agreements, a pope or emperor could be confident that his Swiss Guards wouldn't turn on him when the political winds shifted direction. From the early 17th century, a regiment of Swiss mercenaries had served as part of the Royal Household of France. On 6 October 1789, King Louis XVI had been forced to move with his family from the Palace of Versailles to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. In the 1792 10th of August Insurrection, revolutionaries stormed the palace. Fighting broke out after Revolutionaries butchered 5 Swiss Guardsmen before their captain's eyes. Although the Swiss ran low on ammunition, they pushed back the Revolutionaries. After King Louis was coerced by the Assembly, a note written by the King(which has survived), ordered the Swiss to retire and return to their barracks. Obedient to the King, the Swiss Guard stood down and were butchered mercilessly. Their heads were put on pikes on city streets where women and children kicked heads and body parts around Paris. More than 600 Guardsmen died that day. An estimated two hundred more were sent to the guillotine in prison during the September Massacres that followed. Apart from about a hundred Swiss who escaped from the Tuileries, the only survivors of the regiment were a 300 strong detachment which had been sent to Normandy a few days before August 10. The initiative to create the monument was taken by Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, an officer of the Guards who had been on leave in Lucerne at that time of the fight. He began collecting money in 1818. The monument was designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, and finally hewn in 1820–21. The monument is dedicated Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti ("To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss"). The dying lion is portrayed impaled by a spear, covering a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis of the French monarchy; beside him is another shield bearing the coat of arms of Switzerland. The inscription below the sculpture lists the names of the officers, and approximate numbers of the soldiers who died (DCCLX = 760), and survived (CCCL = 350).

Stock Number: 4660

Price: £600

Availability: In Stock

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