The Elephant Understands
The Elephant Understands
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The Elephant Understands

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Leon Underwood 1890-1975
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Wood engraving  1926 

200x163mm

Literature: Neve, Christopher, Leon Underwood, London, 1974, pp.93-95, illustrated.

Signed and dated in pencil. From the series, Animalia or Fibs about Beasts, a collection of twenty engravings with accompanying verses published in New York in 1926. An extremely rare proof dedicated, To Herbert Furst, and with the published verse written by the artist in pencil in the lower and right-hand margins. Herbert Furst was an art critic and historian know for, among other things, his book, Modern Woodcut written in 1924.

Almost certainly inspired by Apollinaire's Le Bestiaire, illustrated with woodcuts by Raoul Dufy and first published in 1911.

The verse reads:

The Elephant understands./Walking ponderously, his hands/Have worn their fingers out, and so,/In a row his nails now grow/Around his wrists and ankles./His wounded sensibility/o'ercomes the inability/To pick up things between his toes/By growing fingers on his nose.