In the beautiful courtyard of the Palazzo Baldassini (Via delle Coppelle, 35) there is a small carving of an elephant. The palazzo (1514-19) was constructed by the Florentine architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1484-1546) for Melchiorre Baldassini and the relief depicts Annone, an elephant that once belonged to Pope Leo X (r. 1513-21).
Shortly after becoming pontiff, on March 9th, 1513, Leo X (r. 1513-21) received a rather special gift from the King of Portugal, Manuel de Aviz. The gift took the form of a small elephant, which was called Annone (Hanno), in memory of one of Hannibal's generals.
Annone quickly became a great favourite, both with the pope and the people of Rome who flocked to see it. He was taught by his keeper to do a variety of tricks, one of which was to kneel in the presence of the Holy Father. Sadly, Rome's climate did not suit Annone and he died three years later, much to the distress of the pope.
There is a small carving of Annone in the beautiful courtyard of Palazzo Baldassini (Via delle Coppelle, 35). The palazzo (1514-19) was constructed by the Florentine architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger for Melchiorre Baldassini, the papal jurist.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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