The gigantic bronze lions with fabulous manes and cuddly paws make you want to touch them. They seem friendly enough even though the one on the left looks like he could eat you.
According to Washington Sculpture by James Goode, the greatest book ever about Washington monuments, statues and memorials, the Canova Lions were purchased in 1860 in Rome by Washington businessman Benjamin Holliday for $6,000. Holliday kept them at his home.
The lions were made from the molds of a marble sculpture by Italian sculptor Antonio Canova in 1792 for Pope Clement XIII. The lions are now inside St. Peter’s Basillica in Rome.
The Corcoran bought the lions for $1,900 at an estate sale of Holliday in 1888. That was a steal.