Of the three large vase models featuring animal designs, the Elephants was the only one to be mold-blown. It was an earlier design than the Seagull and the Polar Bear, no later than 1926, and a seemingly popular one as well, made in different color combinations. The same elephants theme was also reprised in wood marquetry, for a small square table top. It is of course possible that this particular theme refers to the popular interest in exotic and colonial imagery in the 1920s. But the fact that no other Gallé vase can be easily ascribed to this vogue, and the use of animal motifs to celebrate special events strongly suggest that the Elephants design also had a commemorative context. Surely the most likely event was the second automotive journey across central Africa, later dubbed the 'Croisière Noire.’ Organized with great publicity by the French automobile manufacturer Citroën, Georges-Marie Haardt and Louis Audouin-Dubreuil led a convoy from the 28th October 1924 to the 26th June 1925 across 20,000 km in central Africa. After the expedition, many pictorial accounts, often featuring elephants, were published in the press. An exhibition was organized in the Pavillon de Marsan of the Louvre and a documentary film was soon released. The celebration of this colonial adventure with an elephants-themed vase appears highly likely, establishing a precedent for the Seagull and Polar Bear designs.
Professor Samuel Provost