“African” with elephant skin
Figurine, Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Porcelain Manufactory, Meissen, Germany, mid-18th century, Porcelain.
Courtesy of Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
This young man appears to have just returned from the hunt. Dressed only in a simple skirt and colorful crown, the figure carries an elephant skin under his arm. This, roughly, was how Africa was imagined by the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in 1750.
The elephant hunter elegantly swings his hips forward. African dance was unknown in Meissen at that time. And it would take quite a while before the probing gaze of Western ethnologists would pervasively survey the African continent. The Meissen artists had no choice but to rely on what they knew. And thus it came to be that the African elephant hunter holds a pose from European antiquity.