3. Thai white elephant procession, shown in original frame.
paint on cotton
26 x 17.5 in. (66 x 44.3 cm.)
A white elephant in procession ridden by a mahout in full ceremonial garb at his ears with an elephant goad, with another mahout at the back of the elephant also with a goad. The dress of the rider behind the head suggests divinity, and is perhaps meant to represent the god Indra, whose vehicle is a white elephant. The elephant is accompanied by four soldiers holding spears below, followed by two Europeans in top hats riding a blue and a white horse and saluting.
In Thailand, white elephants (ช้างเผือก, chang phueak) (also known as Pink Elephants) are considered sacred and are a symbol of royal power; all those discovered are presented to the king (wikipedia).
This painting suggests that perhaps at some point a Eurpoean power presented the king of Thailand with a while elephant, or it may be merely that ambassadors accompanied the white elephant in this procession.
Collection of Robert H. Ellsworth, New York, by 1995, believed to have been acquired before moving into his most recent residence in 1979. The frame is original to the Ellsworth collection.
Detail: the painting
Detail: detail of the two Europeans in the procession.