In the arts, the eagle has always been regarded as the king of birds. Although examples in western painting are rare, apart from depictions of the rape of Ganymede by Zeus.
The sculpture, 66 cm in height, is on display at the London Museum, and was discovered on a construction site in The Minories, London, in September 2013.
It came from a high-ranking official’s tomb of the 1st or 2nd century AD, and is one of only two statues of its type in the world. The other was found in Jordan in 1937.
The sculpture features an eagle grasping a writhing serpent in its beak and is thought to symbolise the struggle of good against evil.
Because of its power and nobility, it has been widely used in Christian tradition as the symbol of Saint John the Baptist
Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Saint John on Patmos, 1412-1416
Titian, Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c1547, oil on canvas, 238 x 263 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA
and especially as a lecturn to support the Bible, because of the symbolism of spreading the gospel over the world.
Eagle Lecturn, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
John James Audubon, an American naturalist, was the first artist to concentrate on birds and his classic “Birds of America” is still used by ornithologists today
John James Audubon, Golden Eagle, 1833-34, Plate 181, Birds of America
Emily Carr, 1871-1942, was a Canadian artist who studied in England for a while. She painted on the west coast of Canada, concentrating on the forests, and Indian villages and totems.
Emily Carr, Big Eagle, Skidigate, B.C., c. 1930, watercolour on paper, 76 cm x 57 cm, The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, BC, Canada