This sculpture shows a large African elephant calf caught in a foothold trap, throwing back its trunk in alarm. Just behind the baby elephant’s hind foot is a guinea baboon which appears to be shrieking in distress.
The statue was created by the artist Emmanuel Fremiet and was shown at the World Fair in 1878, known as the Exposition Universelle. It was made as part of a series of animal statues that were created to represent the world’s continents. The elephant served as a metaphor for Africa in the series, and its capture may perhaps be a metaphor against European colonialism on the continent.
By profession, Fremiet was an “animalier,” an artist who specialized in creating animals. During the 19th century, the works of animaliers were in high demand and were displayed in galleries, parks, and in the private homes and gardens of the wealthy.
Know Before You Go
The elephant sculpture is easy to find as it is located in the street directly outside the Musee D'Orsay in Paris , close to the equally impressive rhino.