Two of the most loved public sculptures are the lions in front of the New York City Public Library on Fifth Avenue. Sculptor Edward Clark Poptter obtained the commission for the lions on the recommendation of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America's foremost sculptors. Potter was paid $8,000 for the modeling, and the Piccirilli Brothers executed the carving for $5,000, using pink Tennessee marble.
Patience and Fortitude's nicknames have changed a couple of times over the years. This is Patience, the lion south of the Library's main steps. They were originally called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after the Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, they were known as Lady Astor and Lord Lenox even though they are both male lions. During the 1930s, Mayor Fioello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression.
As a tribute to their popularity and all they stand for, the Library adopted the lions as it mascots. They are trademarked, represent the Library's logo and are featured at major events.
I'm no different than anyone else, I have always loved these lions. My pen-and-ink drawing, "Library Lion" is of Patience. The way the sunlight hits him and the cast shadows make him look even more majestic. On the shadowed wall behind him is a marble fountain statue called "Beauty" in a niche in the building facade. She is a woman seated on the winged horse Pegasus, representing inspiration and elevation above the worlds concerns. I liked the idea of showing, even in shadow, what Patience is "guarding".