The marble for this relief panel probably came from a Roman sarcophagus. The slab was recarved and reused during the early Middle Ages for a church in Nola, probably to be used as a choir screen. Lions are often used as symbols for Christ in Italy during this period, but the depiction of a family with a male, a female, and suckling cub is unique.
From Villa Chapel, Nola.; Unidentifiedchurch and/or private collection, Nola; Salvadore Romano, Florence (shortly after WWI–until 1930); [ Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (1930–sold 1947)]
Exposition internationale d'art byzantin. Paris: Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Pavillon de Marsan, 1931. no. 568, p. 158.
The Dark Ages: Loan Exhibition of Pagan and Christian Art in the Latin West and Byzantine East. Worcester, Mass.: Worcester Art Museum, 1937. no. 52, p. 29, ill.
Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Lisbeth, and Jack Soultanian. Italian Medieval Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010. no. 4, pp. 14–17.
Shalem, Avinoam. Die mittelalterlichen Olifante: Volume 1, Text. Die Elfenbeinskulpturen. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 2014. p. 134 n. 107.