Dinosaurs as Objects of Art and Artistic Inspiration

The first drawing of a dinosaur bone was in the seventeenth century, but it was interpreted as something entirely different at the time (Chapter 3). Much later, after their public recognition as formerly reptile-like animals, dinosaurs were depicted as dynamic creatures by many nineteenth-century artists. Dinosaurs have been a popular theme in art ever since, portrayed worldwide in drawings, paintings, and sculptures. More recently, multimedia approaches use photography (particularly digital) and computer applications as the means for expressing the artistic qualities

On the Internet, 'eb pages with dinosaur themes are exceedingly abundant and now rival print literature in some respects.

FIGURE 1.6 Comparison of photograph and line drawing of a skull of the Late Jurassic theropod Allosaurus fragilis from the Morrison Formation (Late Jurassic) of Utah, USA, showing more easily discernable anatomical details in line drawing. Skull is a replica, formerly on display in the Western Colorado Museum of Paleontology, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA.

FIGURE 1.6 Comparison of photograph and line drawing of a skull of the Late Jurassic theropod Allosaurus fragilis from the Morrison Formation (Late Jurassic) of Utah, USA, showing more easily discernable anatomical details in line drawing. Skull is a replica, formerly on display in the Western Colorado Museum of Paleontology, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA.

Dino Facts For AdultsDinosaur Line Sketch

of dinosaur fossils. Artistic renditions of dinosaur appearances and behavior are noteworthy because, like films and television, they reflect basic popular conceptions of dinosaurs. These views of how ancient life and environments have changed through time often accord with scientific progress. Depictions of dinosaurs have been affected by two broad, but often overlapping, influences:

1 science, in the form of scientific illustration, which is typically in association with a scientific text; and

2 aestheticism, which is simply the expression of their wonder, beauty, or awe-inspiring power.

Drawings accompanied the first scientific descriptions of their bones in nineteenth-century Europe (Chapter 3). Despite the advent of digital photography and computer graphics, drawings are still a necessary part of dinosaur studies (Fig. 1.6). Some artists depicting dinosaurs are professional scientific illustrators, whose artistic talents lie in combining fossils with living animals while working within the prescribed boundaries of fact. Serious scientific illustration of dinosaur fossils requires much study of the anatomy, inferred physiology, and behavior of dinosaurs. Not coincidentally, some illustrators are professional paleontologists who honed their observational skills

Dinosaur Biome

FIGURE 1.7 A classic painting by Charles R. Knight of the Late Jurassic sauropod Apatosaurus (more popularly known as Brontosaurus) in an aquatic habitat. First published in The Century Magazine (1904) in the article "Fossil Wonders of the West: The Dinosaurs of the Bone-Cabin Quarry, Being the First Description of the Greatest Find of Extinct Animals Ever Made," written by Henry Fairfield Osborn. Transparency No. 2417(5), courtesy of the Library, American Museum of Natural History.

FIGURE 1.7 A classic painting by Charles R. Knight of the Late Jurassic sauropod Apatosaurus (more popularly known as Brontosaurus) in an aquatic habitat. First published in The Century Magazine (1904) in the article "Fossil Wonders of the West: The Dinosaurs of the Bone-Cabin Quarry, Being the First Description of the Greatest Find of Extinct Animals Ever Made," written by Henry Fairfield Osborn. Transparency No. 2417(5), courtesy of the Library, American Museum of Natural History.

through meticulous drawings of their subjects (Chapter 2). An artist's knowledge base is expanded considerably if the dinosaurs are to be re-created in their original natural environments. Such illustrations necessitate study of non-dinosaurian animals, plants, ecosystems, and landscapes that probably accompanied them. For example, the illustrations of paleontologists Gregory Paul and Robert Bakker often show dinosaurs in their interpreted environmental context. Such works demonstrate that these illustrators are well acquainted with the anatomical traits of their subjects, and are also familiar with evidence for ancient environments.

The works of artist Charles R. Knight were so evocative and influential that they arguably constituted the foundation of the popularity that surrounds some of the most famous dinosaurs today, such as Allosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and the sauropod Apatosaurus (previously known as Brontosaurus; Fig. 1.7). Knight's attempts at realistically illustrating dinosaurs as living, active animals were facilitated by his consultations with professional paleontologists and intensive study of his subjects. Knight's enduring images of Apatosaurus immersed in bodies of water, and Tyrannosaurus confronting Triceratops, have served as icons for the popular conception of these dinosaurs, although some of these interpretations of dinosaurs' behaviors changed over the ensuing years. Some of Knight's illustrations reflect hypotheses about dinosaurs that were surprisingly ahead of his time, such as active and agile carnivorous dinosaurs (Chapter 9) and extremely large dinosaurs raising their front feet off the ground (Chapter 10).

The most revered of artists who depicted dinosaurs was Charles R. Knight (1874-1953), an American who worked with drawing, painting, and sculpting to fashion portraits of dinosaurs.

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