Sue Coe: a painting in progress
Sue Coe home page logo

Sue Coe's Elephant Tales
The Reunion of Alice and Jumbo: a painting in progress
The Death of Jumbo
Barnum's Winter Quarters Burn
Elephants in Our Midst
Topsy: An Elephant Never Forgets
Elephant Links
Dress Rehearsal
The Reunion of Alice and Jumbo: a painting in progress

Background: Alice, recently purchased by P. T. Barnum, has only just arrived from London. She and Jumbo had been friends at the London Zoo before Jumbo was sold away to America. Jumbo's hide and bones had been preserved after the railroad accident that killed him.

They meet here in Barnum's tent, set up in New York's Madison Square Garden (it was a garden then).

The text of the finished painting:

Dress Rehearsal: In 1886 the dead Jumbo was stuffed, 78,280 nails were used. P.T. Barnum purchased Jumbo's 'wife' Alice from London and dressed her in widow's weeds. At Madison Square Garden Alice was walked toward the stuffed Jumbo. She had not seen him in 4 years, but touched his mouth and trunk, then turned her back on him and groaned. Dead Jumbo and his wife were a greater attraction than the living Jumbo.

Below: the painting at various stages, along with details. Select any image to enlarge. Use browser back button to return.
The initial white hovering and winged Jumbo figure [left] is exchanged for a smaller and darker one [right]

Dress Rehearsal, 2008. oil on canvas

see also Tufts Online Magazine, An Elephant's Tale: An Unadulterated and Relatively True Story Chronicling the Life, Death and Afterlife of Jumbo, Tufts' Illustrious Mascot

all work © Sue Coe