A pair of 14th century marble lions from the tomb of Charles V of France (1338-1380) is to auction at Christie’s Exceptional Sale in July.
They lions were made by Andre Beauneveu, a Flemish artist who worked on a number of commissions for Charles.
Flemish sculptor Andre Beaunevea made the lions circa 1364-1366
Many of these can still be seen in the Basilica of St Denis in Paris, the traditional resting place for French kings and queens.
While scholars were aware of the existence of the lions, until recently they were believed to have been lost around the time of the French revolution.
The revolutionaries levelled St Denis, destroying many of the tombs of France’s former royals - including that of Charles V.
Fortunately, the custodians of the church managed to hide away a number of statues.
It transpires the lions were purchased by an English collector, Sir Thomas Neave, a few years later in 1802.
Donald Johnston, Christie’s head of sculpture, said: “It is extraordinarily rare to offer any medieval work of art with such a fully documented provenance.
“The fact that this marble group was executed by one of the most important sculptors of the period and is part of an important royal commission makes it even more remarkable.
“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.”
While there’s no estimate available for the lot, it’s likely to go for several million.
Two mourning figures made for Charles V’s brother, the Duke of Berry (1340-1416), realised $5.3m last year.
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