Continuing the theme of still life with narrative, this drawing is of part of an old standard lamp which my grandmother had in her sitting room. I remember the carved lion’s head with the brass ring through its mouth fascinated and spooked me when I was a kid – it is slightly sinister (and appealing to my inner goth). I’d like to know how old it is and where it came from; I have a vague recollection that someone said something about it being used as a prop in theatrical productions somewhere but sadly there’s no one left to ask now so I guess I’ll never know.
Apparently the motif of a lion’s head holding a ring in its mouth dates back to Roman times when it was a popular decoration on furniture, the ring often being used as a handle. It regained popularity in the early to mid-18th century and can still be seen today in the form of door knockers. In Roman times, the lion head mask was a symbol of strength, courage and majesty.
I made this drawing over the course of three balmy summer evenings this week, sitting with the doors of the studio wide open. Sweet. I find it very useful to look at the scanned image afterwards; it often appears quite different and highlights elements I hadn’t noticed before. And sometimes I have to resist the urge to tinker further with a finished image.