Saturday, April 4, 2015

Artist of the Month: Knight

-By William O'Connor

"Herd of Wooly Mammoth" American Museum of Natural History 1916

Before there were concept artists and paleo artists, the imagining of nonexistent creatures varied greatly.  Today when we watch movies or play video games with realistically designed creatures we have over one hundred years of art history behind us.

One of the first and most famous of these artists was Charles R. Knight (1874-1953).  Born in Brooklyn, Knight studied in New York and began his work in the late 19th century when the great Dino Wars were just getting started.  The new field of paleontology was unearthing specimens of prehistoric dinosaurs by the hundreds, and museums all over the world were clamoring for the best fossils.  Knight, along with the paleontologists was able to combine anatomy, science and art creating some of the most stunning recreations in natural art history.

During a golden age of discovery this golden age illustrator created murals, paintings, illustrations and sculptures that informed the understanding of prehistoric animals for almost a century, in museums and books, and is still inspiring artists today, including myself, and every concept artist who ever designed a monster or dragon.

To learn more about Charles R. Knight see:

"Tylosaurus" 1899

Leaping Laelops 1897


"Cro Magnon Artist" American Museum of Natural History


  1. Some great stuff. Thanks for sharing WIlliam. I wouldn't have known about it otherwise.

  2. Knight was one of the true groundbreakers in paleo art; he and Zdeněk Burian led the way and were huge influences on Roy Krenkel, Frank Frzaetta, and Al Williamson, among many others. Thanks for the post, William!

  3. Also, fun fact about Knight, he was legally blind. How's that for artistic drive!

  4. William, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh has a Knight exhibit that is on display until the 26th of April if you didn't already know
    They will have the AMNH mammoth mural study you posted on display, but since you have a decent picture of it, maybe you already were there? I'll be making the trip to see it soon.


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