Following William Railton�s successful competition scheme the Nelson Memorial Committee commissioned the sculptor John Graham Lough to make the four lions to stand at the base of Nelson�s Column. Lough�s work on the lions was slow and he died before their completion.

Sir Edwin Landseer was given the commission to model the colossal lions. Landseer studied lions and cats before executing his design and it has been suggested that their paws are really those of a domestic pussy cat. The unfinished lions were left to languish in Landseer�s St John�s Wood studio for a number of years.

The four bronze lions were finally placed in position in January 1868, more than half a century after Nelson�s death at Trafalgar. Protecting each corner of the column�s base the lions are said to represent and reflect the calm resolve that made Nelson the saviour of his country.



Contemporary photographs by Jeremy Young
Unveiling of the lions
© London Illustrated News, Westminster City Archive

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