Skip to Content
Today Open today 10–11 members | 11–5 public

Lion (One of a Pair, North Pedestal)

A bronze lion, on the cusp of a roar, seems to step forward on its pedastal in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.
® The Art Institute of Chicago

Image actions

  • A bronze lion, on the cusp of a roar, seems to step forward on its pedastal in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.




Edward Kemeys (American, 1843–1907)
American Bronze Founding Company

About this artwork

Iconic guardians of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lions have stood at the Michigan Avenue entrance since the building’s inaugural year. The site became the museum’s permanent home at the conclusion of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, where the new structure had hosted lectures and other events for fairgoers. Modeled by Edward Kemeys, an essentially self-taught artist and the nation’s first great animalier (sculptor of animals), the lion pair was unveiled on May 10, 1894. Kemeys focused his talents on sculptural portrayals of North American wildlife, capturing such native creatures in anatomical, naturalistic detail. For the Art Institute, he modeled larger-than-life African lions, the one positioned north of the steps “on the prowl” and the lion to the south “in an attitude of defiance,” (1893.1a) in Kemeys’s words. These behavioral distinctions are visible in the variation of head, tail, and stance. Each weighing in at more than two tons, the Lions were cast in Chicago by the American Bronze Founding Company.


On View, Michigan Avenue entrance/steps


Arts of the Americas


Edward Kemeys (Sculptor)


Lion (One of a Pair, North Pedestal)


Chicago (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Bronze with green patina


Lion on north side of AIC signed, right front: "Kemeys"


261.7 × 114.2 × 287 cm (103 × 45 × 113 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Henry Field

Reference Number



® The Art Institute of Chicago

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions