In 1727 the elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong, began renovating a building in Dresden that came to be known as the Japanese Palace. It was to be filled with Augustus's growing collections of porcelain, lacquer, and soapstone, arranged by category, much as they would be in a modern museum. Among the planned displays were several hundred figures of birds and animals that were to be made at Meissen in a large size that had not yet been attempted, stretching the capabilities of porcelain to its limit. This calmly imposing lion was modeled by Kirchner as part of the series; the broad handling of the body and the deep undercutting of the mane display his training as a sculptor of stone.
The elector's plan was never realized; he died in 1733 and neither the installation of the Japanese Palace nor the series of birds and animals was completed.