The first Indian Rhino to reach Europe was brought by the Portuguese
After a woodcut by Albrecht Durer; Nuremberg 1515
The Portuguese had brought two animals back to Europe from India which were to become famous in the history of art: an elephant and the first rhinoceros to be seen in Europe. After staging a fight between the beasts, which the rhinoceros won when the elephant ran away from it, King Manuel I of Portugal gave both animals to Pope Leo X as a present, but only the elephant, which was later painted by Raphael, survived the second sea voyage; the ship carrying the rhinoceros sank in a storm in the Mediterranean. But a faithful likeness had earlier been taken of the animal which Albrecht Dürer obtained.
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Bonny Gregory © 2011
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