Emerald elephant and golden angel bring message of hope and success for the future

A winged angel rides into Bonhams atop an elephant, heralding success on a golden trumpet.

Elephant de Triomphe is a fantastic Salvador Dalí sculpture valued at £250,000–£350,000. It will be offered for sale as part of the Impressionist and Modern Art sale at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 4th February, 2014.

The sculpture is one of a series of eight cast and carries an inscription '4/8' (four artist studies and two artist proofs also exist). The work was conceived by Dali in 1975 and the first sculpture was cast in 1984.

The towering, cast bronze elephant sculpture has an emerald-green patina body and surreal, elongated, giraffe-like legs. It stands almost 3 meters in height, open mouthed and trunk raised as if in echoing trumpet. A golden angel with trumpet lands on the animal's jeweled saddle heralding great news.

Elephants were used by Dalí as a symbol of the future and were one of his favorite images, recurring atop mosquito-like legs in many of his paintings.

The angel fanfare on the elephant's back announces the dawn of an exciting new era. The rich gold of the shining angel and the jeweled saddle on which it kneels could be said to signify wealth and prosperity. The fragility of the spindly limbs carrying the gigantic weight of the elephant perhaps symbolizes the fragility between past and future.

The 1970s saw Dalí growing increasingly interested in science and religion and becoming ever more devoutly Catholic. Christian iconography as well as scientific and futuristic symbols began to seep into his work.

Elephant de Triomphe, elevated physically and spiritually above the earth on stilt-like legs and watched over by its guardian angel, is a product of these fascinations – announcing the beginning of a prosperous new age.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to https://www.bonhams.com

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