“The work was first mentioned in an archival document in 1300. By 1347, the sculpture was prominently displayed on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, the seat of the city’s civic administration. During this time, Renaissance Rome was experiencing a great rebirth of interest in its glorious ancient past, which served as a model for the present…”
“…Throughout the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, the sculpture was a battered fragment consisted only of an equine torso and feline foreparts. In 1594, Michelangelo’s student Ruggero Bascapé (Italian, active by 1580, died about 1600) replaced the horse’s head and both animals’ missing limbs and tails. His restoration of the horse, with its head straining forward and its lower back leg folded awkwardly beneath its body, was not well received at the time.
“Much admired by Michelangelo, who praised the colossal fragment as “most marvelous,” the Lion Attacking a Horse was a compelling model for generations of artists who studied in Rome. It features in several 16th-century illustrations which show the work before and after restoration, and became the prototype for numerous small and large scale replicas. The installation at the Getty Villa will include a 1585 engraving by Giovanni Battista de’ Cavalieri from the Getty Research Institute, illustrating the sculpture prior to Bascapé’s additions. A 17th-century bronze statuette by Antonio Susini from the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Getty Museum renders the horse’s head turned back toward the lion, a dynamic solution that reflects the likely composition of the original Greek sculpture.” – Getty Villa
The sculpture was the centerpiece of a major exhibition at the Getty Villa. It was part of “The Dream of Rome” project initiated by Giovanni Alemanno, Mayor of the Eternal City, designed to exhibit timeless masterpieces from Rome in the United States.