'Jeune Éléphant pris au Piège' ('Young Elephant Caught in a Trap') – Paris, France - Atlas Obscura

Paris, France

'Jeune Éléphant pris au Piège' ('Young Elephant Caught in a Trap')

This emotive sculpture was originally created for the 1878 World's Fair. 

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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 Henri-Alfred Jacquemart 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, Jacquemart 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.

After studying in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Jacquemart embarked on a particularly successful career and produced many bronze sculptures of animals that were shown at exhibitions and won him numerous awards and medals. Many of these masterpieces, like the elephant, are now displayed in public areas and can be seen and appreciated in the many parks, galleries, museums, and squares of Paris.    

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.

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