Base for the Marzocco lion

Base for the Marzocco lion

Purchased from Giuseppe Lelli in 1895 for £37 14s 1d

Original:

Base for the Marzocco lion
Donatello (1386-1466)
15th century
Marble
In front of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy

The base was formerly ascribed to Donatello and thought to be the original pedestal designed by him for the Marzocco, but there is no documentary evidence to support these conclusions. The base is, however, thematically linked with the Marzocco, the emblem of Florence, as the decoration of the base is entirely composed of coats of arms representing the city of Florence. The Florentine lily in red on white, the stemma of the Guelph party, on the shield supported by Donatello's lion is repeated on one side of the base, while the shield on the other side, formerly coloured red and white, denoted the union of Florence with Fiesole. These arms are repeated around the top of the base, together with the arms of the four quarters of Florence (S. Croce, S. Maria Novella, S. Spirito and S. Giovanni) and the arms of the Florentine people. The coats of arms would originally have been painted in the appropriate colours.