A glamorous Art Nouveau winged lion or griffin brooch, in 18Kt gold, France, circa 1890-1910.
This exceptional piece has been expertly crafted out of 18 karat yellow gold in the form of a winged lion or griffin fending off a snake/serpent. The pin is in excellent antique condition showing expected signs of wear. It has only been lightly cleaned in order to maintain its look. Mentioned for accuracy there is a small gap at the base that is there, by design, as the piece is thick yet hollow. It weighs approximately 5.91 grams and measures 1.18 inches (3 cm) wide by 1.06 cm (2.7 cm) tall. It bears an unknown designer's stamp and a faded French eagle head hallmark for 18K gold (confirmed with testing).
The winged lion and griffin/griffon/gryphon are found in various form throughout history, especially in Ancient and Medieval civilizations. The winged lion is the heraldic symbol of Mark the Evangelist and the symbol is also found in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. In medieval heraldry, the griffin became a Christian symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine. The serpent was a symbol of evil power and chaos from the underworld as well as a symbol of fertility, life, and healing. נחש Nachash, Hebrew for snake or serpent, is also associated with divination and in the Garden of Eden is portrayed as a deceptive creature or trickster, who promotes as good what God had forbidden. In the New Testament, the serpent is used to represent Satan or the Devil. In my humble opinion the entire piece can be interpreted as the protector of the divine struggling to defeat the manifestation of evil or at the very least hold evil at bay until 'The Tempter' is finally defeated. The circular form of the brooch implies this is a timeless or eternal struggle.
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Art Nouveau Winged Lion Brooch | 18K Gold Griffin | Victorian Pin France
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