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Statue to Live with its Unkind Cut

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

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The bronze King of the Beasts that has stood sentry outside Spain’s Parliament for more than a century will remain anatomically incorrect.

Worried about corrosion, Spanish officials have sacked a petition to add testicles to the statue at the building in Madrid.

Two lion statues, named for Spanish soldiers Daoíz and Velarde, have guarded the government building for 142 years. Somehow, though, the fact that only Velarde is appropriately endowed was  discovered only within the last few years.

No one seems to know exactly when Daoíz's manhood went missing, or if it was ever there to begin with.

Plan Rejected

In any case, a campaign to replace Daoíz's testicles was launched in August 2012 by Carolina Godayol, who heads Spain's History Channel.

Spanish Parliament lion statues

Government officials worried that adding testicles made from a different material than the 142-year-old statue could have "harmful effects," including corrosion.

Godayol investigated why Daoíz was lacking the attributes accorded to Velarde, and said she found no "artistic, historical or biological reason" to justify the absent parts.

The TV station even offered to pay for the installation.

However, the proposal was officially shut down Sunday (June 29), when Spain's government said that adding the appendages could have potentially "harmful effects" to the original sculpture.

Mixed Metal Concerns

Godayol's plea was reviewed by José Ignacio Wert, Minister of Education, Culture and Sports. He said that corrosion concerns nixed any hope of Daoíz reclaiming his lionhood.

Specifically, Wert cited issues that could arise from having different materials on the statue.

"This is particularly serious in the case of metal sculptures, as the diverse composition of the parties can cause the effect of galvanic cell, leading to corrosion deterioration, Wert said, according to a translation of his response obtained by Europa Press.

The History Channel could not get the lion its missing component, but the station's TV campaign won a prize at the 2013 Latin American Advertising Festival.

And producing the same material to make the addition would pretty much be impossible. The statues were created from melted bronze taken from cannons captured during the 1860 Wad-Ras Battle in the Spanish  Moroccan War.

No Proof of Previous Parts

The lion's castration was most likely "factory defect," according to Wert, who noted that images from the Library of Historical Heritage dating to the 1950s show the statue without testicles. The lion statues have stood in front of the building since 1872 and were restored in 1985.

Additionally, the lions have been a designated asset of cultural interest since 1977, which places them under the Spanish Historical Heritage Act, said Wert. The act states that such assets should "be preserved, maintained and guarded by their owners."

He also noted that current conservation criteria would discourage the addition, because there is insufficient evidence to prove whether or not the part was always missing. Moreover, if testicles were added now, part of the statue's history would be "hidden with reintegration."

Although the History Channel's proposal was ultimately shot down, the station won a prize at the 2013 Latin American Advertising Festival "El Sol" for its TV campaign, according to TheLocal.es.


Tagged categories: Corrosion; Government; Historic Preservation; Metals; Monuments

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