Sheet: 10.8 x 14.6 cm (4 1/4 x 5 3/4 in.)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1927.199
Catalogue raisonné: Lehrs V.339.94
The howdah is a carriage placed on the back of an elephant and used to transport wealthy people during hunting and warfare.
This print shows an elephant carrying a crenellated and fortified basket—the howdah—from which two very small human figures peer out. In 1483, an elephant was brought to Germany and taken from town to town to be exhibited as a curiosity. It is likely that Martin Schongauer and his brother Ludwig, who were living in Ulm at that time, witnessed the arrival of this exotic animal. While he may have seen the elephant in person, Schongauer's portrayal—with its twisted trunk and shell-like ear—was likely made from memory rather than direct study of the beast.
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