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The Elephant

A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of engraving on ivory laid paper.


c. 1485


Martin Schongauer
German, c. 1430/50-1491

About this artwork

Martin Schongauer may have engraved his fantastical Griffin and his Elephant as a pair, given their similar scale. Although he may have had the opportunity to see a real elephant in 1483, this depiction is clearly inaccurate by modern standards. Nonetheless, by the mid-16th century, his print became the basis for scientific illustration in Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner’s 1551 book on animals. The two prints may also relate to Schongauer’s series of coats of arms with fanciful animals decorating their shields.


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Prints and Drawings


Martin Schongauer


The Elephant


Germany (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Artist's working dates 1450–1491


Engraving on ivory laid paper


Image: 10.2 × 12.8 cm (4 1/16 × 5 1/16 in.); Sheet: 10.2 × 13 cm (4 1/16 × 5 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Mrs. Potter Palmer, Jr.

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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