A superb painting of two woolly mammoths caught in a blizzard, one raising its tusks and trunk above its head, the other crouching in the snow with its eyes closed. Of Knights depictions of woolly mammoths that we have identified, including in large murals at the American Museum of History and the Field Museum, none produce the drama of the one offered here. Knight usually depicted mammoths as stoic travellers in wintery landscape. In this painting, the animals appear to be genuinely afflicted by the cold, the one with this head raised adopting an air of defiance, the other cringing from the icy wind which is almost palpable to the viewer. With masking tape over cloth-tape edging three sides, a beautiful painting. (#7793). Item #60602
Charles Robert Knight was a renowned American painter, famous for his recreations of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Although a childhood accident left him legally blind, he studied painting at the Metropolitan Art School and the Art Students' League, and began his professional life as an illustrator for McClure's magazine. From the 1890s through the 1930s the American Museum of Natural History in his native New York City commissioned a series of his paintings, a number of which are still in the institution's permanent exhibitions. These works were based on skeletal remains in the Museum's collection, the best scientific information then available on prehistoric life, and the artist's keen observations of the anatomy of related modern animals. Other museums across the country began to acquire his paintings, and his works can today be seen at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, the National Zoo, he Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, and many others. Knight's works were also reproduced as illustrations for many works on paleontology published during his lifetime, National Geographic Magazine, and several books that he wrote, including "Before the Dawn of History" (1935), "Life Through the Ages" (1946), and "Prehistoric Man: The Great Adventure" (1949). Before the age of computer reconstruction, Knight had more influence on the way people imagined prehistoric life than any other artist and his works are still admired by paleontologists today. "Not since the Lord showed his stuff to Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones had anyone shown such grace and skill in the reconstruction of animals from disarticulated skeletons. Charles R. Knight, the most celebrated of artists in the reanimation of fossils, painted all the canonical figures of dinosaurs that fire our fear and imagination to this day" (Stephen J. Gould in "Wonderful Life").