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This mezzotint, titled Africanische Jagt, created circa 1740 by George Philipp Rugendas in Augsburg, strikingly portrays the intensity of an elephant hunt in Africa. The scene vividly captures an elephant, besieged by multiple hunters, grappling with two of them in the foreground with its trunk while others continue their assault with arrows and spears from the flanks.

During the mid-18th century, European interest in exotic lands was at a fever pitch, fueled by the age of exploration and colonial expansion. Artworks like Africanische Jagt were crucial in shaping the Western perception of distant lands and their fauna. The depiction of the elephant, a creature scarcely seen in Europe at the time, reflects both fascination with and misunderstanding of African wildlife and customs. The brutal imagery in this piece, while unsettling, provides insights into contemporary attitudes towards nature and the 'otherness' of foreign lands.

Rugendas, known for his detailed and dramatic renditions, employs mezzotint, a printmaking process popular in the 18th century, notable for its ability to render subtle gradations of light and shade. The choice of blue ink adds a unique, almost surreal quality to the scene, distinguishing it from typical mezzotints of the period. The dynamic composition, with the central elephant figure entangled in a life-and-death struggle against human hunters, is a powerful representation of the era's artistic fascination with dramatic, action-filled scenes.

The piece is an important historical print, shedding light on the era's artistic styles and the European view of exotic wildlife. It also serves as a poignant reminder of historical attitudes towards nature and the often-grim reality of human-animal interactions.


Even in black ink, this print is extremely rare. In blue ink, it might be unique.

Condition Description
Mezzotint in blue ink on laid paper. A few expert marginal repairs.
See Andrea Teuschner "Die Künstlerfamilie Rugendas 1666-1858", 1383.
Georg Philipp Rugendas (I and II) Biography

Georg Philipp Rugendas I was a painter, printmaker and publisher. Born Augsburg 1666, died Augsburg 1742. Founder of the family business, and father of Georg Philipp II, Christian and Jeremias Gottlob Rugendas. 1690-92 Vienna, afterwards Venice for 14 months. October 1693 Rome. 1695 back to Augsburg. 1710 director of Academy of Arts Augsburg.

There was apparently an attempt by the family to print in blue colors: