Knight Tyrannosaurus “Swipes”


This famousTyrannosaurus painting — today known to be inaccurate in some ways — was done by artist Charles R.  Knight 1906 for New York’s American Museum of Natural History under the direction of museum paleontologist and director, Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn.

Knight based his Tyrannosaurus painting directly on this somewhat incorrect reconstruction of the dinosaur’s skeleton published earlier in 1906 by Osborn.







Knight’s panting, has, in succeeding decades, inspired myriad future artists — who sometimes shamelessly copied his original design again and again in books. comic books, magazine illustrations, toys, even motion picture special-effects models. Sometimes the new artist “flopped” the image, turned or even replaced the head, or made other changes, none of which, however, ever really desguised the original source material.

Here is a small sampling of such uncredited “swipes.”

Left, Frank R. Paul’s cover for the February, 1929 issue of this pulp magazine.






 Dust jacket from The Dinosaur Book (1945 & 1951).

















Artwork by Irene Robinson, who transplanted the head (“flopped”) from Knight’s Field Museum mural for this book published in 1934. (Well, at least she used a Knight Tyrannosaurus head.) 










Models  (see also) have also been based on the Knight original. This composition figure was made by Neoform, in Denmark, during the early 1950s.



 Book (1953) illustrated by C. B. Falls.


















Panels drawn by Joe Kubert in the comic book One Million Years Ago no. 1 (1953) and by Wally Wood in Weird Science number 22  (1953).














Illustration from a 1954 issue of Boy’s Life magazine.









 Children’s book published in 1956, artist not credited.


















Tyrannosaurus model sculpted by Marcel Delgado and animated by Willis O’Brien for the movie King Kong (1933).











Although the result (lower left) may not be too recognizable, this Tyrannosaurus costume (worn by stuntman Paul Stader), made by special-effects man Fred Knoth (left) for the 1940 movie One Million B.C., was based directly on a black and white photo of Knight’s painting.


 And a ceramic figure from the early 1980s.

Ceramic T. rex