Parliament Lion salvaged and restored

Coat of Arms Parliament LionGilder Sarah B. Eggen adds gold leaf to the lion of the Norwegian Coat of Arms. Photo: Parliament

Parliament Lion salvaged from container and restored

The frame – of what turned out to be the Parliamentary Hall’s original Coat of Arms (from 1866) – was salvaged from a trash container in 1975. The Parliament Lion is now reconstructed, restored and placed in the lecturing rooms of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget).

Alert janitor

Coat of Arms Parliament Lon

The Coat of Arms of Norway in the Parliament. Photo: Stortinget

It was discovered by chance that the frame belongs to the Coat of Arms of the Norwegian Parliament. Forty years after Care Taker of the Parliament, Per Kristian Engebretsen, fished the frame out of a container along with two old mirrors, he invited gilder Sarah B. Eggen and wood carver, Boni Wiik, to the Parliament to assess the old objects. They recognised the frame while studying an old photograph of the parliamentary hall (from 1870). There it was; the Parliament Lion hanging, in all its glory, behind the presidential podium!

“I’m touched to see the Parliament Lion hang here today. It was a coincidence that I had picked the frame up over forty years ago, and the result is amazing,” former caretaker Engebretsen says.

There are very few preserved objects from the Parliament’s early years, and it was quickly considered to attempt to recreate the old The Coat of Arms. Whilst ploughing through old sources, it was revealed that it wasn’t any old national symbol. It was in fact designed by none other than sculptor Christopher Borch. Borch is best known as the artist behind the stone lions in front of the Parliament, aka the Lion Hill (Løvebakken).

The very own lion of the Parliament

“With the restored Coat of Arms, an important piece has fallen into place here at the Parliament,” President of the Parliament, Tone Wilhelmsen Trøen, smiles.

“Its placement in the classrooms connects the historical and new parts of the Parliament, and the lion is a golden opportunity to tell children and young people about the lion as a symbol of People’s Rule, and how the democracy we currently have is linked to our history,” she continues. 



Detective work and restoration

“The Norwegian Parliament has a special responsibility to preserve and convey our history,” Head of Archives, Tanja Wahl, explains. Wahl has led the restoration of the Coat of Arms.

Many persons have been involved in the reconstruction and restoration work. The Archives of the Parliament has put together and interpreted ancient images to find out what it looked like, professionals with both historical and art competencies have contributed. Finally, craftsmen have been busy for months to restore the Coat of Arms, using traditional techniques.

More pictures from the work on the Parliament Lion available here.

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