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The Lion and Mouse [Plaster]

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Title

The Lion and Mouse [Plaster]

Subject

Animal sculpture--20th century

Description

The Lion and Mouse, 1957
Plaster original

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall M. Fredericks
1991.002

Fredericks stated that this sculpture illustrates the well known Aesop Fable of "The Lion and the Mouse." The mouse, whose life was spared by the lion, helps that same lion to escape a horrible fate. A fitting moral to the story is that kindness is seldom thrown away, be it given to the mightiest, lowliest, or smallest of creatures. Fredericks rendition illustrates the conclusion of the story in which the lion comes to friendly terms with the mouse.

The J. L. Hudson Company commissioned this sculpture for Eastland Center in Harper Woods, Michigan. Like many of Fredericks' sculptures, he designed it specifically for children. Both animals are humanized with friendly facial expressions. The lion's reclining position and his crossed legs are very human-like, yet his huge round head is stylized with uniformly coiled ringlets and his knees are stylized and abstracted. These artistic intentions make the king of the jungle appealing to children and adults alike.

Creator

Fredericks, Marshall M., 1908-1998

Date

1957

Rights

Use of this image requires permission from the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

Type

Sculpture

Coverage

University Center (Mich.)

Sculpture Item Type Metadata

Physical Dimensions

54" x 36" x 77"

Materials

Plaster full-scale

Catalog Number

1991.002

Object Location

Main Exhibit Gallery

Provenance

1987 November 30, Gift to Museum and SVSU Board of Control

Notes

From Jennifer Lentz (Collection Documentation Intern 1991-1992)
Memo dated September 11, 1991

"RE: The Lion and Mouse - Lion and Monkey
Molly told me that the Lion and Monkey was the predecessor of the Lion and Mouse although they were both created in 1957. The lion is in the same position but the monkey sits upon his left knee. Mr. Fredericks thought it would not be best to put the figure on the knee because he thought that children could sit there. He changed it to The Lion and Mouse with Aesop's fable in mind. Molly said she is aware that in Aesop's story the mouse frees the lion from the hunters net by gnawing through it. Although when Mr. Fredericks tells the story he says that the mouse pulled a thorn out of the lion's paw. She had not heard of the story of Androcles and the Lion."



Molly Barth copy:
The first plaster model is the Lion and the Mouse. The J. L. Hudson Company commissioned Fredericks to make this for Eastland Shopping Center in St. Clair Shores. The original sculpture for the shopping center was made from this plaster model. Here in the gallery, but the one that's at the shopping center is carved in limestone, the lion, and the little mouse that's on the paw of the lion, is cast in bronze and then gold-plated. Of course you all know the story of The Lion and the mouse. Well, let me tell you the story of the "Lion and the Mouse." One day, that lion came across this wee, little mouse and he was going to eat him, but the mouse said, "No! One day, I will be able to help you," and that lion just laughed at that mouse and he said, "How could you ever help me?," and he said, "I just know I can, one day!" So because he just thought it was so funny, he let the mouse go. But one day, the mouse heard the lion making a ferocious kind of cry, so he came across him, and he said, "What's the matter?" and he said, "Oh, my paw hurts so terribly!" so the mouse looked and he saw a thorn in his paw and he pulled that thorn right out of the lion's paw, and the lion was forever grateful to that wee, little mouse that he thought could never help him. That little mouse did show the lion what he could do, and they were forever friends.

Carl Fredericks:
The lion and the monkey was Marshall's first attempt and he did cast a maquette. But a dear Scandinavian lady he knew due to his Scandinavian work and who lived locally reminded him that there was a fable that the kids learned in school about the lion and the mouse. So he changed it and won the commission for the Eastland Mall project. She often visited the studio and would tell me this story.

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