The Angel and the Elephant

The sculpture of the Winged figure with elephant, Courtyard of the Procuratie Nuove, Venice
A few months ago I wrote about a curious sculpture, which I discovered, by chance, in one of the courtyards behind the Procuratie Nuove, in Piazza San Marco.

I wasn't able to find a reference to the sculpture anywhere until this morning when, lo and behold, I read about it on the website of Venice in Peril. The organisation, it seems, is funding its restoration, and work will commence in April. I was hoping to find out more about the meaning and origin of the sculpture, but this is what they write:  

"Is it the work of a Venetian sculptor, or might it originate from another Italian city? So far, its history is unknown, and theories differ as to the subject and its meaning. John Julius Norwich has suggested that the work might represent one of the Four Continents, raising speculation as to whether sculptures of the other three ‘corners of the globe’ might be found elsewhere in Venice.

I believe that the female figure is most likely to represent Vittoria, the winged Roman goddess of Victory (Nike in Greek mythology), who was sometimes portrayed with an elephant. Victory/Nike was invariably depicted with wings, and wore flowing robes and sandals."


  1. I surely hope someone can tell us why that elephant has clawed feet!


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