47. The Zallinger Mural, 1947 [1955]


If Charles Knight almost single-handedly determined how the public saw dinosaurs during the first half of the twentieth century, then Rudolf Zallinger did the same for the ensuing twenty-five years. In 1947 he completed an enormous fresco mural for the Peabody Museum at Yale University. It was a tour-de-force on all counts, and it came to the attention of the general public when Life Magazine included a reduced copy of the mural as a foldout in its series, "The World We Live In," which then appeared in book form. Oddly, the magazine reversed the painting; in the original mural, the dinosaurs appear in chronological order from right to left, but in the magazine, the older dinosaurs are at the left and the more recent dinosaurs at the right.

All of the well-known dinosaurs are represented here, from tiny Compsognathus to the dominating Tyrannosaurus. But they are not the active dinosaurs of Heilmann or the early Knight, or of Cope and Osborn. None of Zallinger's dinosaurs is running; in fact, none of them even has a foot off the ground. They are solemn and motionless. They reflect a view of dinosaurs as slow, inactive creatures, a view that had come to dominate even among professionals in this era.


The Editorial Staff of Life; and Lincoln Barnett. The World We Live In. New York: Time Inc., 1955. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 47.

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