“The Swiss Lion”. A Royal Copenhagen biscuit porcelain figure. Stamped Eneret and E. 1870–1890. L. 19 cm.
“The Swiss Lion / Löwendenkmal” is a work of art in Lucerne, Switzerland, designed by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1819. The lion is a memorial to the Swiss Guard, who defended Louis XVI of France and his family during the storm on the Tuileries during the French Revolution.
Thorvaldsen made the drawings and model in 1819 and the sculptor Lucas Ahorn carved the dying lion directly into the rock in a former sandstone quarry where it is located.
The inscription under the sculpture lists the names of the officers and the presumed number of soldiers who died and those who survived. Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti is engraved on the upper side for the loyalty and courage of the Swiss.
The lion lies mortally wounded with its head lowered and with its mouth half open, a broken spear sticking out from the side. It lies with the right lab partly over a shield showing the French lily, while another upright shield with Switzerland's national coat of arms stands next to it up against the wall.
It was the Swiss colonel Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen (1771–1840) who had the idea for the memorial and contacted Thorvaldsen in 1818. Von Altishofen had participated in the Swiss Guard, but was at home on leave when the fighting in Paris culminated in August 1792. He wanted to travel a memorial to his dead comrades.
The sculpture was unveiled on 10 August 1821 with, among others, Prince Christian Frederik present.
The plaster model of the lion is exhibited at Thorvaldsens Museum and has the dimensions 84 × 161 cm.