Peter Beard - Photographs London Friday, September 25, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Time Is Always Now, New York
    Phillips, New York, 4 October 2011, lot 182

  • Exhibited

    Oltre la fne del Mondo, Palazzo Reale, Milan, 1997

  • Literature

    J. Bowermaster, The Adventures and MisAdventures of Peter Beard in Africa, Boston: Bulfinch, 1993, pp. 38-39 (variant)
    P. Beard, The End of the Game, Cologne: Taschen, 2008, wraparound cover (detail)
    Peter Beard, Cologne: Taschen, 2013, pl. 13 (variant)

  • Catalogue Essay

    To the left of the composition is a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in Peter Beard’s distinctive handwriting:

    'No-one dreamed that the game could ever be depleted by a few immigrants with maps and gunpowder. And yet, within a matter of years, this paradise would become a part of the modern world, a battlefeld desert littered with the carcasses of elephants beyond number as Fitzgerald wrote of another paradise: ‘For a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath, in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.’

    756 elephants presents the quintessential Peter Beard – visual poet, alchemist, prophet – and epitomises his unique aesthetic and socially conscious approach. Once described as ‘Odysseus with a camera’, he was a visionary ahead of his time whose powerful work continues to resonate long afer its creation.


756 elephants / Tsavo at the Mkomazi Border 1976 for The End of the Game / Last word from Paradise / …Destroyed social units in misery-likes company formation; Suffering over population, stress, heart disease, constipation + MISMANAGEMENT / (35,000-40,000 would die in this wasteland)

Toned gelatin silver print with ink, blood and affixed snake skin, executed later.
Sheet: 79.4 x 105.4 cm (31 1/4 x 41 1/2 in.)
Frame: 102 x 128 cm (40 1/8 x 50 3/8 in.)

Signed, titled, dated and extensively annotated in ink and blood on the recto; exhibition stamp on the reverse of the frame.

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £100,000

Contact Specialist


Rachel Peart
Head of Sale, Specialist

Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe

General Enquiries
+44 20 7318 4092


London Auction 25 September 2020