Rembrandt Bugatti elephant bronze sculpture looms large at Florida auction

The name 'Bugatti' is associated with quality and excellence in collectibles. Carlo Bugatti was a celebrated designer of furniture and jewellery, and of course Ettore Bugatti has been the focus of many of our stories as he is simply a legend in the field of classic cars.

Ettore's younger brother Rembrandt Bugatti was also talented, but his life was a more tragic one. He became a renowned sculptor of animals, using those at the zoo in Antwerp as inspiration. Sadly he committed suicide in 1916 at the age of just 31, with one of the causes thought to be his horror at the death of the zoo's animals a consequence of the First World War.

Bugatti's sculptures of exotic animals such as elephants, lions and panthers were his most popular works, and in fact the tiny silver elephant his brother placed on the bonnet of the Bugatti Royale was based on one of Rembrandt's sculptures.

Recently a beautiful elephant bronze was taken to a local appraisal fair where an auction representative was working. Its owner had no idea of what he was holding.

Gifted to a caretaker nearly half a century ago a group of rich, globe-trotting women, it was handed on to his nephew around the turn of the century. He was the one who brought the Rembrandt Bugatti bronze elephant to the fair.

Rembrandt Bugatti elephant bronze
Rembrandt Bugatti's elephant bronze

The elephant will be offered in a Florida Antiques & Fine Art Auction on February 19. It carries an estimate of $300,000-$500,000. Internet live bidding will be provided.

Rare and highly prized, Bugatti's animal bronzes have commanded seven figure sums at auction (notably a cast of his 1909-1910 bronze Sacred Hamadryas Baboon), was auctioned at Sotheby's in 2006 for $2.56m) and hold prize places in many museum and gallery collections worldwide.

Thought to date from circa 1912, the impressive elephant figure, measures 10 3/4 inches high by 15 inches long by 4 3/4 inches deep. An example of this bronze can be found page 329 of Veronique Fromanger's Rembrandt Bugatti Repertoire Monograhique.

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