-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