23. Triceratops by Knight, 1901

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In spite of the great success and popularity of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins's dinosaur sculptures in the 1850s (see item 5), there had been no real successor to Hawkins to carry on the tradition of dinosaur restoration. Even good restorations on paper were uncommon through the end of the century. Until, that is, Charles Knight appeared on the scene in 1897. Working initially with Cope in Philadelphia, and then with Henry F. Osborn and the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Knight quickly showed a great gift for bringing dinosaurs to life, in practically any medium whatsoever. Not only was he the first truly great dinosaur artist, but his impact continues to be felt right up to the present day.

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Knight was an accomplished sculptor as well as painter. In many instances his sculptures were clearly handmaidens for subsequent paintings (this is the case, for example, with his model of Laelaps, item 30), but several of his sculptures are fully finished pieces. Certainly that is true of this Triceratops. It was modeled for the United States National Museum, which in 1901 participated in the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Their exhibit featured a full size replica of a Triceratops skeleton, with Knight's much smaller sculpture standing before it. Knight also executed a painting of Triceratops in its natural habitat; the painting was displayed at the exhibition, and it is also reproduced in this report (see right).

For a view of the exhibition hall, with the Triceratops skeleton and model sculplture in place, click here.

Source

Merrill, George P. "Report on the Department of Geology for the Year 1900-1901," in: Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. Report of the U. S. National Museum, for the year ending June 30, 1901, pp. 81-91. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 23.

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