The Beauty, the Beast, and the Lamb.


Una and the Lion, Briton Rivière,1840

Briton Rivere shows us a woman (Una) walking through a forest with a lion and a lamb, representing a mysterious balance of power and grace.

This image features three main figures, the lion, the girl and the lamb, and we notice them in that order. The Lion takes up most of the view, as he strides alongside Una and looks up at the sky. His blond mane resembles Una’s long blonde hair, and his tail replicates her braids. There are pieces of the lion that are one with Una. Una herself stands with her hands slightly folded. She is dressed in a long white dress, with long braided hair sweeping beyond her knees with white ribbon laced through it. Her head tilts down but her eyes look forward, past the lamb, and out of our frame of view. The lamb meanwhile dances freely ahead of the pair, looking down and prancing forward and up. Una’s fair skin and dress reflects the lamb’s white wool, and represents their likeness of youth and beauty.

It is an unusual enough sight to see a lion walking peacefully alongside a human. What makes this situation even stranger is the presence of a lamb. The lamb is not scared in the presence of the lion, it is playful and carefree. Meanwhile we might ask ourselves why a lion is present in the image at all, let alone in a temperate forest environment. It may be concluded that the lion’s presence represents power and protection, while at the same time, peculiarity, as he is out of his element entirely.

This scene is created using neutral, subtle tones and colors, which suggests serenity. Una almost glows in her white fairness, emitting an aura of peace; this along with her positioning in the middle of the two animals could imply that she is the one responsible for bringing this strange mix of creatures together, holding a possible strength or power of her own.

Judging by the flowers, the sunshine, and the obviously recent birth of the lamb, it is springtime–a time to rejoice. However, Una’s facial expression is one almost of sorrow. She seems to be fidgeting with her hands as she walks. Perhaps her worry could be justified by tying in the saying, “Spring comes like a lion, and leaves like a lamb.” This would imply that is is mid-spring, that the power and protection the lion gave her through the winter is no longer needed, and that he must move on, leaving her alongside the naive baby lamb. Additionally, there is no central point of focus, as each of the subjects look an opposite way, each distracted with their own thoughts.

This scene is one of beauty and mystique. It challenges our views of relationship between a beast and those less powerful.

“Una and the Lion.” Wikipedia. Manchot Sanguinaire, 11 Jan, 2006. Web. 1 Oct, 2013<>
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License


One comment

  1. Your description of the picture was very strong, along with your word choice. You really emphasized on the importance of the lion, which was important because it seemed to me the most significant part of this image. Also I felt your conclusion was put together well; it was short but got to the point and did a great job of summarizing your blog post. Towards the end it seems to get repetitive and hard to follow. In your thesis you talk about “balance of power and grace,” you could potentially elaborate more about power through out the post. Besides those two things there was nothing else that seemed wrong. It was a strong first blog post and represented the image accurately.

Comments are closed.