A sculpture of two lions carved for the tomb of French king Charles V that was thought lost in the French Revolution will soon go under the hammer in London, auction house Christie’s said Tuesday.
The 14th-century marble work by French artist Andre Beauneveu, which had been held in a private British collection for more than two centuries, will be sold on July 6.
The lions were carved as near mirror images of each another, with strikingly detailed manes and one baring its teeth.
Beauneveu was commissioned by the king shortly after he came to the throne, and was tasked with constructing four family tombs.
The lions were sculpted over two years from 1364 to 1366, according to Christie’s, and placed at the foot of Charles’s tomb in what was then the Abbey of Saint Denis in Paris.
But the family tombs were dismantled in 1793 by France’s revolutionary government, and the lions were purchased in 1802 by Thomas Neave, a British aristocrat.
The emergence of the sculpture represents a “remarkable rediscovery”, Christie’s said.
“The discovery of these lions in a private English collection is wonderful news for collectors and scholars who previously thought they had been lost during the French Revolution,” said
Donald Johnston, Christie’s international head of sculpture. Their appearance had previously been known only from an 18th-century engraving.
An estimated sale figure has not been given for the work, though it is expected to be high.
A pair of marble figures from the tomb of Charles’s brother, the Duke of Berry, were sold last year to the Louvre museum for 5 million euros ($5.3 million).