1641, 13 augustus. Rotterdam

De Engelse reiziger en schrijver John Evelyn (1620-1670) noteert in zijn dagboek dat hij de buitengewoon goed gedisciplineerde grote vrouwtjesolifant ziet op de jaarmarkt van Rotterdam. Brinck had geschreven dat de olifant 3 jongens op zijn slurf kon dragen (zie de beschrijving voor Harderwijk). Evelyn houdt dat aantal op twee tot drie (1). Evelyn merkt ook op dat Hansken kleine slagtanden had. Al in 1903 werd het verband gelegd tussen de beschrijving van Evelyn, de brief van Barlaeus uit oktober 1641 en olifant-tekeningen die Rembrandt maakte (2).

1) “We arived late at Roterdam, where was at that time their annual Mart or Faire (…). Here I first saw an Eliphant, who was so extreamely well disci­plin’ed and obedient, that I did never wonder at any thing more: It was a beast of a mo[n]strous size, yet as flexible and nimble in the joynts (contrary to the vulgar tradition) as could be imagin’d from so prodigious a bulke, & strange fa­brick; but I most of all admired at the dexterity, and stren­gth of his proboscis, on which he was able to support two, or three men, and by which he tooke, and reached what ever was offer’d him; his teeth were but short being a female, and not old, as they told us.” Uit: E.S. de Beer (ed.), The diary of John Evelyn, Vol. 2, pp. 39-40.

In Vol. 1, p. 29, staat nog het volgende: “Here [= Rotterdam] I first saw an Elep­hant, wondrous­ly disciplined to performe many feats and acti­ons, as flexible & nimble in its joynts (contrary to the Vulgar tradi­tion) as could be imagined from so prodigious a bulk: very observable was his dexterity in the management of his probos­cis, which serv’d him as an hand, to reach any thing offered him to Eate, & which yet he could contract to a didig­nesse able to take up & bare 2 or 3 men, & set them on his back.”

2) I.M. White, ‘A note on Rembrandt’s animal studies’, in: The Magazine of Art, New Series, deel 1 (1903), p. 357.