By Anne Leader and Costanza Beltrami

Sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti committed suicide on 8 January 1916. He was only 31. His desperate sadness was likely brought on by the forced execution during World War I of many of the animals resident at the Antwerp Zoo, where his studio was located.

Indeed, Rembrandt is known for his sculptures of animals, most famously for the rearing elephant he created to serve as the radiator cap for the Bugatti Royale (Type 41) designed by his brother Ettore. Despite the whimsical nature of his subjects, both wild and domestic animals, Bugatti suffered depression and financial difficulties, which likely contributed to his tragic decision to end his life.

Elephant Radiator Cap, before 1916

Mon Chien, 1905, bronze

Bouledogue français, 1905, bronze

Reference: Henry Hawley and Saverio Simi de Burgis. “Bugatti.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. .

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