Lion attacking a Horse loan highlights Rome-Getty agreement

The ancient Greek statue of the Lion Attacking a Horse owned by the Capitoline Museums in Rome is now on view at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California.

The loan of the marble masterpiece, which has never been out of Rome since it was initially brought to the city possibly as spoils of war two millennia ago, is part of a new agreement between the Eternal City and American museums.

The original fourth-century BC Greek sculpture, now newly restored, has been hidden away behind the Palazzo dei Conservatori since the 1920s. It was once the symbol of Rome until it was replaced by the She Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. It is also known to have presided over Piazza del Campidoglio before it was displaced by the much-loved equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. When it returns to Rome after its American trip it will have a prominent position close to the original Marcus Aurelius statue, now under cover in a specially-designed part of the museums.

The loan of the Lion Attacking a Horse, which has been the inspiration for so many subsequent works of art, is part of an agreement between Rome’s civic museums and the Getty Museum for collaboration on future restoration projects, loans, exhibitions and conferences.

The Knight of Columbus, America’s prestigious and wealthy Roman Catholic organisation that funded the restoration of the early Hellenistic statue, has been instrumental in setting up the agreement.

The Lion Attacking a Horse is visible in the atrium of the Getty Villa until February 2013. The Villa owns a small early baroque bronze of the group attributed to Antonio Susini that will also be on display as part of the same exhibition.

The loan of the Lion Attacking a Horse is part of the “Dream of Rome” project initiated by the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, to exhibit some of the city’s classical masterpieces in United States museums from 2011-2013.