- Museum number
Figure of an Elephant with Three Riders on an ormolu base; hard-paste porcelain; moulded; white body coloured green and covered with a thick whitish glaze; balanced between the elephant's ears is a bulbous vase with integral cover, pierced with five circular holes around the upper part, 'held' by a female oriental figure in a long robe seated sideways to right; behind her on a howdah is a sage seated on a cushion forming a detachable cover, and resting on the elephant's rump is a female oriental mandolin player seated cross-legged sideways to right; underneath near the elephant's front legs are two circular holes; inside the hollow body is a column with a circular hole through its flat top; the figure is fixed to the ormolu stand by means of metal screw-and-nut fitments and metal prongs through the feet; glaze poorly applied, particularly on the left hindquarter, and mould line visible on rump, trunk and cover which is hollow, its underside pierced by a circular hole; the mount consists of a cast ormolu 'frame' in the rococo style within which is a thin sheet of tooled ormolu; no marks.
- Production date
- 1860 (probably, circa)
Height: 34 centimetres (max with stand)
- Curator's comments
- Jones 1990
This elephant and its stand came to the British Museum as part of the Franks Bequest. Franks believed the figure to be Meissen, but it is now known that this model was never manufactured there; Kaendler's genuine 'Sultan on an elephant' of 1741 is quite different.
The origin of this and a similar piece in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is not known; a French origin is suggested.
Literature: Sir A. W. Franks, Catalogue of a Collection of Continental Porcelain, London 1896, p. 75, no. 119; E. Mew, Dresden China, New York 1900, pl. 12; W. B. Honey, Dresden China, London 1934 (new edn 1954), p. 182 no. 60; C. Albiker, Die Meissner Porzellantiere im 18. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1959, p. 27, no. 254; H. Tait, Porcelain, London 1962, pl. XXII, (rev. edn 1972), pp. 35-6, pl. 22; H. Tait, 'Ormolu-mounted "Celadon" Elephants of Early Meissen Porcelain', Ars Ceramica 6 (1981), pp. 50-3, figs 1-7. Dawson 1994, A Catalogue of French Porcelain in the British Museum.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1990 Mar-Sep, London, British Museum, Fake? The Art of Deception, no. 227.
- Neck of front and centre figures repaired.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number