Born in Newcastle in 1861, Joseph Crawhall developed a reputation as a first-class animal painter. He began his training in Glasgow and became associated with the group of artists known as the 'Glasgow Boys', who focused on light, colour, design and composition, as opposed to the minutely detailed and resolved style which was then fashionable. In 1884 Crawhall travelled to Morocco and Spain, where he spent nine years.
These studies of elephants perfectly demonstrate Crawhall's ability to conjure up an entire image through the use of a few spontaneous brushstrokes. As Sir John Lavery said, 'No artist I have ever known could say more with fewer brushstrokes.'