This remarkable drawing correctly and precisely records the anatomy of the exotic animal; it is thus one of the earliest European depictions of an elephant to be drawn directly from life. The sheet shows the white Asian elephant who had been named Hanno, after the Carthaginian sovereign and seaman. The elephant was born in Cochin (India) in 1510 and then shipped to King Manuel I in Lisbon. In 1514, he then sent the elephant to Pope Leo X as a diplomatic gift; the latter accepted it enthusiastically. With his spirited tricks and his remarkable charms, Hanno effortlessly won the Pope’s heart. Leo X was inconsolable when the elephant died in 1518 – perhaps because of stress caused by his being exposed to ever-greater masses of spectators – and had Raphael paint a life-sized fresco portrait of Hanno on the wall of the Vatican's gatehouse. The fresco and the architectural element were later destroyed during a modernization project. This sheet bears a contemporary copy of Raphael’s preliminary drawing.


  • Title: The Elephant Hanno
  • Creator: Raffaello Sanzio (school of)
  • Date: 1516
  • Physical Dimensions: w28.5 x h27.9 cm
  • Type: Paper
  • Medium: Pen and brownish black ink over traces of black chalk, with white highlights; on greyish brown paper
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ 17949
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Dietmar Katz │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Rome, Italy
  • Artist Place of Birth: Urbino, Italy
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1483.03.26, 03.28 oder 04.06 - 1520.04.06

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