Opponentindlæg: Lise Camilla Ruud. Doing Museum Objects in Late Eighteenth-Century Madrid.

  • Samuel J. M. M. Alberti


Carlos III of Spain was especially fond of pachyderms. In 1773 an elephant arrived in the port city of Cadiz, a gift from the ruler of the Carnatic region of India via the Governor-General of the Phillipines. After trekking 600 km it fascinated nobility and the masses alike in Madrid, then lived out its days in the royal menagerie at Aranjuez. But elephants often have afterlives as interesting and varied as their lives, and this one was no exception. Upon its demise in 1777, Juan Bru, the dissector at the Royal Cabinet of Natural History, hurried the 50 km to Aranjuez to preserve and prepare the specimen, and to secure it for his master, Pedro Franco Dávila. The King wanted an elephant to display, and Dávila wanted a specimen for the cabinet. Accordingly, Bru spent over a week defleshing his mammoth charge, cooking the bones, drawing everything as he went along. 

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