A magnificent limited edition car mascot entitled ‘Dancing Elephant’ by the Lalique Glassworks – a lost wax casting of the famous glass car mascot of a dancing elephant from the design by Rembrandt Bugatti, signed Lalique and numbered 16/35
Bugatti – Dancing Elephant
Rembrandt Bugatti was Ettore’s brother and one of the most important sculptors of the early 20th century. He became famous for his sculptures of animals. His works, most of which were cast in bronze, were exhibited in many collections and museums across the world.
One of his most famous works is the sculpture of a dancing elephant which appears on the radiator cap of the Bugatti Type 41 Royale and came to symbolise the brand. Just as Ettore had a flair for creating automotive artworks, Rembrandt was renowned for his extraordinary artistic talent and outstanding skill at crafting surfaces. Rembrandt Bugatti represents the strong artistic roots of the Bugatti family. That was why Bugatti dedicated its fourth Legends model to him. The model was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2014.
Life of Bugatti
Rembrandt was born in Milan on 16 October 1884. He was the third child of Carlo and Teresa Bugatti and the younger brother of Ettore. Growing up in the family home, he became acquainted with major artists such as the composers Giacomo Puccini and Ruggero Leoncavallo, the sculptor Ercole Rosa and the painter Giovanni Segantini, the husband of his aunt Luigia. It is said that it was Segantini who suggested the name Rembrandt for his nephew.
Inspired by Prince Paul Trubetzkoy, Rembrandt began creating sculptures at a very young age. In 1900, he began his studies at the Brera Academy in Milan – where his father Carlo had also once studied – and quickly earned a reputation as the academy’s most talented sculptor. Right from the start, Rembrandt Bugatti concentrated on sculptures of animals, initially using plaster and later bronze. By 1903, he had exhibited in Milan, Turin and Venice.
In 1904, Rembrandt moved to Paris with his family, and was soon accepted into the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Three years later, he moved to Antwerp, Belgium by himself. Antwerp was home not only to Belgium’s most important art academy, the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten, but also a large zoo with numerous exotic animals that Rembrandt Bugatti used as models. His sculpture of a rearing elephant would later adorn the radiator cap of his brother Ettore’s world-famous Bugatti Royale.
After 1910, Rembrandt’s statuettes made increasingly less use of natural forms and – probably due to the influence of Cubism – tended towards more geometric, structured and angular forms. In the course of this development, Rembrandt Bugatti became a pioneer of Art Deco. An expert who saw his sculptures without knowing who made them or when would estimate that they were produced around a decade later than they actually were. Nowadays, they sell for record prices to rival his brother Ettore’s cars.
At the start of the First World War, Rembrandt Bugatti volunteered for the Belgian Red Cross and worked at a military hospital set up in Antwerp Zoo. Under the influence of these experiences, he became depressed, and this depression was made even worse by his increasing financial difficulties – due to the war, he could barely sell any of his artworks.
On 8 January 1916, Rembrandt took his own life in his Paris home, aged just 31.
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