Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life

Charles R. Knight was a wildlife illustrator whose career spanned the era when dinosaurs first captured the public imagination in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Unlike other nature artists of his generation, Knight realized that the same skills he used to capture the beauty of wild animals could be used to bring extinct creatures to life. Now Abrams has released a gorgeous new book collecting some of his most beautiful illustrations. We've got a gallery.

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Working with scientists, Knight created some of the first realistic (for the science of the era) images of dinosaurs, Pleistocene megafauna like mammoths and sabre tooth cats, and neolithic peoples. His work inspired the dinosaurs depicted in early movies King Kong, and eventually came to grace many museums (the wooly mammoth sculptures at the La Brea Tar Pits are based on Knight's drawings). Now some of his dinosaur images are out of date — we know, for example, that most dinosaurs probably had proto-feathers — but they are still iconic. And his work is glorious testimony to the importance of using beautiful art to illuminate scientific discoveries.

Collected in this volume are sketches, paintings, and other artworks that Knight created during his long career. Author Richard Milner has also knitted together fascinating tales from Knight's life, chronicling everything from the artist's interest in the origin myths of Indian civilizations in the Americas, to his opinions on natural history museum exhibits.

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You can find Charles R. Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time via Abrams Books or your favorite bookseller.

Click any image below to enlarge.

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life

T Rex confronts Triceratops

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life
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Bengal tiger and peacock

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life
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Lioness head

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life
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Lynx

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Leaping laelops

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life
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Cro-Magnon artists painting mammoths

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Wooly mammoths

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life
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La Brea Tar Pits diorama

Illustration for article titled Celebrating Charles R. Knight, the artist who first brought dinosaurs and megafauna to life
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DISCUSSION

tokage
LizardJeff

"We know, for example, that most dinosaurs probably had proto-feathers"

Not really. There are of course a decent amount of small and medium-sized theropod dinosaurs that have been shown to have had some kinds of proto-feathers, but there are still plenty of the traditional dinosaur favorites (Stegosaurus, Iguanodon, triceratops, Apatosaurus, Corythosaurus, Allosaurus, etc) that had no evidence of feathers at all.

Of course, that doesn't stop a lot of feather-loving reconstructive artists from depicting all kinds of dinos with feathers, but I refuse to believe that my favorite T-Rex looked like a giant chicken just because Velociraptor may have.