Dovima with the Elephants by Richard Avedon

In this fashion photograph, Richard Avedon’s model Dovima is wearing a black Christian Dior dress with a white silk sash. The smooth, silky fabric contrasts with the rough wrinkled skin of the elephant in Paris’s famed Cirque d’Hiver. Dovima’s calm demeanor also contrasts with the elephant’s struggle with his chained foot. Her gesture and hand on the elephant’s trunk are meant to suggest a goddess-like ability to tame the beast.
This photograph was included in Avedon’s one-man show at the Smithsonian in 1962. The center of the top edge reveals a water stain on the negative. At some point shortly after this print was made, the negative was rewashed so that other prints would not contain this darkroom artifact.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1960s
Avedon, Richard
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 124.5 cm x 101.5 cm; 49 in x 39 15/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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