Street Art in Florence - Elephant with fiery eyes

The elephant is a subject that is rarely found in Florence, Florentine writers generally prefer to depict aquatic creatures, monkeys, snakes, insects and hybrids. This is a work that comes form that street art open-air museum that is the Varlungo Viaduct.
The skillful play of light and shadow gives three-dimentionality to this elephant head that looks like a poacher's trophy on hanging on the wall. A work entirely based on cool tones, except for the yellow flame burning in the eyes of the animal, a recurrent and distinctive element of the 400 DROPS collective of artists (tag on the left). The elephant holds a paint can in its trunk, a baseball cap sits on its head, details that seem personal and perhaps refer to the writer, almost as if this were a self-portrait.
No doubt about it, 400 DROPS artists really have magic hands. Their refined, realistic and brightly colored style is  well recognizable and impactful, even in their simpler works.

The elephant in art is nothing new. It has been depicted since prehistoric times to our days. Artists like Hieronymus Bosch, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Salvador Dalì, Keith Haring, Banski and Maurizio Cattelan - to cite a few - all represented this animal in their works.
It is considered a sacred animal in the Indian culture, symbol of wisdom, strength and good fortune. Ganesha, the Indian god with the elephant head, is the "Lord of good fortune and good starts", it brings success and wealth. It must be invoked before starting a journey, an activity, a job or a ceremony. Even without being a divinity, in every culture it was considered good, peaceful and a friend of men.

Interesting is discovering what Leonardo da Vinci thought of this animal, because the Tuscan painter, having took an interest in everything, also had an opinion on elephants. Among his documents there is a bestiary, where he dedicates many pages to elephants and recognizes in them numerous "moral" qualities:
"The big elephant has by nature what is rare in men, that is, probity, prudence and fairness and observance in religion, because when the moon is renewed, these go to the rivers, and there, solemnly purging themselves, they greet the planet and return to the woods. […] They are merciful and know the dangers. And if they find a man alone and lost, they pleasantly put him back on the lost road. [...] They do not fight for females like other animals, and are so merciful that reluctantly by nature harm the less powerful ones, and running into a herd or flock of sheep, with their hands they put them aside so as not to step on them, nor ever do harm if they are not provoked."

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