Lion's Head from Under the Pulpit

Johann (Jan) Pfister

Basic information
Johann (Jan) Pfister
Lion's Head from Under the Pulpit
Date of creation
17th c.
Dimensions (height x width x depth, cm)
21 x 18.8 x 9.5
Information about author
Johann (Jan) Pfister
Artist's lifetime
Johann (Jan) Pfister was a German sculptor, born in 1573 in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland) in the family of the painter and sculptor George Pfister. He studied under masters from the Netherlands and Germany, namely Hans Fleiser, Friedrich Gross, and Gerhard Hendrick. Jan Pfister is considered to be the most outstanding sculptor at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries who worked in Ukraine and Poland. In his works, the sculptor used marble and alabaster rather than wood. He performed the best works in Lviv, Berezhany, and Tarnow. In 1615, at the request of Adam Hieronim Sieniawski, the sculptor began working in Berezhany on the tombstones of the noble Sieniawski family, namely Adam Hieronim and his three sons – Alexander, Mikolaj, and Prokop. Besides, Jan Pfister taught at a carving school in the town. Working as a court sculptor of the Sieniawski family, he carved the altar compositions in the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary in the village of Bishche in the Ternopil region that also belonged to the family. In the 1630s, he worked on the decoration of the altar. Jan Pfister proved to be a professional sculptor who took the first steps in art under the influence of German and Dutch Mannerism.
Object description
In addition to monumental works, Jan Pfister performed many small sculptures, including the heads of cherubs, angels, and mascarons. The Lion's Head from Under the Pulpit belongs to such small works. The sculpture represents the head of a lion with an open mouth framed by wavy curls of the mane that are made in a manner typical of the artist. The raised arches of the eyebrows over the small and deeply set eyes give the sculpture a horrifying look.