48. Tranquil Corythosaurus, 1957


During the post-war years, the figures from the Zallinger mural greatly influenced public perceptions of dinosaurs in the United States. In central Europe, the foremost painter of dinosaur restorations was Zdenek Burian. His canvases were used to illustrate a number of popular books on prehistoric life by Joseph Augusta, and in the the late 1950s and 1960s these were translated into English and widely circulated. So the Burian illustrations offered an alternative to those of Zallinger, or of the late Charles Knight. But there was not much of a difference. Apatosaurus and Diplodocus stand quietly by their respective swamps, accompanied by partially submerged relatives. A Tyrannosaurus besets a pair of Trachodon, but none of the three lifts a leg off the ground, or even seems to be moving at all.

The restoration of Corythosaurus, painted in 1955 (see above), shows one specimen standing semi-upright, with its tail on the ground, while another contemplates its reflection in the water. The pose of the foreground figure had been the standard ornithopod stance since Dollo's restoration of Iguanodon, and it would continue to be so until the 1970s.

One of Burian's other paintings shows a Brachiosaurus submerged up to its eyeballs in water. The notion of snorkeling sauropods is an interesting sidebar in the history of dinosaur restoration; click here for details. To see Tyrannosaurus and Trachodon, click here.


Augusta, Joseph; illustrated by Zdenek Burian. Prehistoric Animals. London: Spring Books, [1957]. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 48.

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