Edinburgh World Heritage - Find out more about this artwork


Find out more about this artwork

The figure of a young boy lying on the back of what looks like a lion is not a memorial as such but an artistic work gifted to the church by its sculptor, Josefina de Vasconcellos. She was born in 1904 and died in 2005.  Her father was a Brazilian diplomat and her mother an English Quaker.  

Josefina’s artistic talents were apparent from an early age and she was winning major sculptural commissions when she was in her mid-20s.  She had a strong faith and many of her works, including this one, incorporate religious symbolism.  

This sculpture, completed in 1950, is called The Last Chimera.  In Greek mythology the chimera was a monster part lion, part goat and part serpent.  Here it is threatening an eagle which represents the Christian church.  But the chimera is being stabbed to death by the young boy who represents truth and purity. The Canongate Church called in the British Army to move the sculpture and its plinth into position.  The small badge set into the plinth records the Army’s involvement.  There are two, smaller, Josefina de Vasconcellos sculptures inside the Canongate church.

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