Menin Gate lion
|Title||Menin Gate lion|
|Medium||calcareous blue stone|
|Measurement||Overall: 150 x 152 x 58.5 cm|
The Menin Gate lions were donated to the Commonwealth of Australia by the Burgomaster of Ypres in 1936. The lions each hold the Ypres Coat of Arms. The lions were given to the Australian government as a gesture of friendship. In exchange, in 1938, the Memorial gave a bronze casting of C. Web Gilbert’s sculpture Digger on behalf of the Australian government. The inscription on the casting of Digger reads: 'In assurance of a friendship that will not be forgotten even when the last digger has gone west and the last grave is crumbled'.
Both Menin Gate lions were deeply chipped across their backs, and one had lost its right foreleg. The lions were chipped and damaged by shell fragments during the bombardment of Ypres during the First World War and when they arrived at the War Memorial, only one was in a suitable condition for display. The other had been badly damaged on one side of its head, and major damage elsewhere had reduced it to only a head and trunk ending just below the ribcage. When the lions arrived at the Memorial in September 1936, the building was not yet complete and lacked a suitable space to display them properly, although the lion with the missing leg was displayed by itself for several years. It was decided in 1985 to reconstruct the missing pieces of each lion in such a way that it would be obvious what was original and what was reconstructed. The reconstructed portions were designed so that they could be dismantled to return the sculptures to their original state, should that prove necessary. The work was done by Kasimiers L. Zywuszko, a Polish-born sculptor, with the assistance of period photographs obtained from Ypres. It was completed in 1987. The lions returned to display in 1991. After double checking the load-bearing capacity of the foyer floor, the lions were lifted by crane over the Memorial steps and placed inside the front entrance. All visitors now pass between the lions as they enter the building.Hide