Antoine-Louis Barye—known also for creating the lion statue in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia—designed Sitting Lion in 1846. It was commissioned by Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, “King of the French.” The original Sitting Lion is in Paris. Famed art collector William T. Walters donated this copy to the City of Baltimore in 1885.
The monument is a tribute to Louis-Philippe’s liberal revolution that overthrew the Bourbon monarchy. His reformist, constitutional July Monarchy came to power during a three-day revolution from July 27 to July 20, 1830. The lion references Leo, the sign of the zodiac that governs late July. The July Monarchy was itself overthrown in 1848 when a revolution ushered in the more liberal but short-lived Second Republic.
Sitting Lion is an example of a monument that has thrived over time. Located in a park outside the Walters family home in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, the monument has not been moved since it was unveiled in 1885. The nearby Walters Art Museum is filled with treasures, and the park around the statue is well landscaped and well traveled. By treating the statue with care, Baltimore honors itself, the Walters family, and the ideals of the artist.
The photograph was taken in April 2012 during a rainstorm. The lion’s dignified mien, impervious to the streams of water running down his face, seems an appropriate symbol of the monument’s resilience.