Charles R. Knight was one of the first American painters to depict dinosaurs, providing imaginative and largely scientifically based renditions of the extinct beasts in real-world settings. His realistic renderings were referred to as restorations. During a time when dinosaurs were capturing the fascination of people across the country, Knight's ground-breaking images combined paleontology and artistry to create some of the most popular museum displays of his day. Though somewhat speculative and not entirely based on solid evidence, Knight's paintings put flesh on creatures no one had ever seen, and he helped shape the image of dinosaurs that lives in public consciousness to this day.
|Charles R. Knight working on Stegosaurus in 1899|
Born in Brooklyn and educated at the Polytechnic Institute, Knight studied at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Students League before beginning a life-long career in the service of natural history. His mentor in paleontology was Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897), Curator of Paleontology at The Academy of Natural Sciences, who helped Knight envision prehistoric creatures as living organisms with many of the same behaviors as their modern counterparts.