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THE LIONS: An Inspiration

Piazza Aranci in Massa, Carrara, is named after the double row of orange trees planted in the early nineteenth century. At the center of the piazza is a monument, an obelisk surrounded by four lions sculpted by Giovanni Isola, a great decorator who won the Universal Exposition in Paris. The lions were carved at the local school of sculpture in marble blocks of 190 palms. However, it took more than thirty years for them to be completed and placed, and Isola did not have time to see them, leaving the task to his son Lodovico. However, Attilio Piccirilli and his brothers, living close by, had an opportunity to see the monument emplaced. There is no reason to believe that Attilio Piccirilli did not have his beloved lions from Piazza Aranci in mind when he designed and executed "Patience" and "Fortitude," the world-renowned marble cats that stand proudly before the majestic Beaux-Arts building of the New York Public Library.

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