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Samson tearing the lion's mouth


The sculpture comes from the high altar of the Church of All Saints in the village of Hodowica. Johann Pinsel created it in the end of the 1750s, approximately 1757-1759. The church was designed by architect Bernard Meretyn.


Samson’s head with raging hair is expressively turned to the side. His face is furious, his eyebrows furrowed. Vibrant and powerful hands tear open the lion’s jaws, the hero’s left shoulder is uncovered. With his right knee he presses down the animal’s body. The sculpture of the lion has its head raised. A long stinging tongue protrudes from the mouth torn by Samson. The beast’s mane and tail are curly, its limbs outstretched in agony. Pinsel created the Samson’s garment in two stages. At first there was only the loincloth. During the preview, he probably received comments on the hero’s nudity. Therefore, the master applied a cloak of sturdy glue impregnated fabric to the completed figure. He modelled the folds and gilded the garment. From an anatomic point of view, Samson’s body is muscular and strong. His arms and legs are carved in a simultaneously dynamic and rigid way. This author’s approach can be seen later in the graphic works of expressionist Egon Schiele and Ossip Zadkine’s sculpture experiments. In this integrated and allegorical composition, Pinsel depicted a biblical story. He contrasted the sturdy figure of Christ’s forerunner, Samson, with the sinister beast conquered by him. The sculptural composition “Samson Tearing the Lion’s Mouth” was preceded by the stone work “Hercules slaying the Nemean Lion” for the town hall in Buchach. In it, Pinsel depicted the hero completely naked. The head of the lion from the composition in Hodowica is similar to the one used twice in the Buchach town hall: in the sculptural group “Labours of Hercules” and in the plastic completion of the pediment on the western facade. The dynamics and staging of the composition is similar to Hercules and the Nemean Lion by Stefano Maderno. This confirms that Johann Pinsel was familiar with this work and studied in Italy.
  • Samson tearing the lion’s mouth. end of 1750s.
  • Limewood, polychrome, gilding, fabric.
  • Size: 157х120х96.
  • Location: The Johann Georg Pinsel Museum in Lviv (Borys Voznytsky Lviv National Art Gallery). LAG inv. no С-1-1175.
  • Provenance: the high Altar of the Church of All Saints in the village of Hodowica, Lviv region.
  • Literature: Literature: Bochnak, 1931, p. 52. — Mańkowski, 1937, p. 36, 92, il. 64-65. — Hornung, 1937, p. 31-33, 56-57, il. 44. — Hornung, 1976, p. 44-45. — Gębarowicz, 1986, p. 15-16, il. 12, 14. — Voznytsky, Opanasenko, 1988, p. 10-11, № 29 (exhibition catalogue). — Exhibition Catalogue Praha 1989, p. 17, Cat.-Nr. 30. — Exhibition Catalogue Wilanów 1990, p. 24f, Cat.-Nr. 30. — Mieleszko, 1990, p. 57-60. — Exhibition Catalogue Poznań 1993, p. II.55-58, Cat.-Nr. 17. — Ostrowski, 2000, p. 212f, il. 14. — Slg.-Cat. Lviv, 2006, p.116f. — Voznytsky 2007, p. 22, Nr. 13 (catalogue). — Stetsko 2012, p. 159 (catalogue). — Exhibition Catalogue Paris 2012, p. 118-34, Cat.-Nr. 15. — Himmlisch! 2016, p. 128, Cat.-Nr. 14 (catalogue). .