Fla. Museum debuts renowned paleo-artist Charles R. Knight paintings April 21

April 16th, 2007

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Beginning April 21, the Florida Museum of Natural History will display seven study paintings and a self-portrait by renowned paleo-artist Charles R. Knight (1874-1953) in the Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land exhibition.

Knight completed the paintings, on loan from his granddaughter Rhoda Knight Kalt of New York, nearly a century ago as studies for some of his famous large murals. They include many animals that once lived in Florida, and have extra significance because Knight painted the landscape backgrounds when he visited the state in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Knight’s murals depicting ancient life grace the halls of America’s greatest natural history museums, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago.

“It’s exciting to have these Knight originals on display at the Florida Museum,” said Florida Museum assistant director for exhibits Darcie MacMahon. “In the world of paleo-art, Knight is truly king — both the best and the beginning of this unique artistic tradition. These seven evocative studies provide a fascinating historical context for the modern paleo-art and reconstructed fossil animals in our world-class Hall of Florida Fossils.”

At 1 p.m. April 21, as part of Earth Day at the Florida Museum, California paleo-artist Bill Stout will give a talk on Knight’s legacy and paleo-art’s contribution to visualizing the earth’s history. Known for his large murals and film production design, Stout’s work is permanently exhibited at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Words & Pictures Museum in Massachusetts.

Kalt, who plans to attend the opening, said the paintings evoke memories of childhood visits to the American Museum of Natural History with her grandfather.

“I hope Florida Museum visitors get a feeling of my grandfather’s love for these creatures,” Kalt said. “It was his whole life. He loved people, although he put the animals first.”

The Florida Museum will display the paintings through mid-fall 2007. For more information, visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/exhibits/upcoming.htm or call (352) 846-2000.

Writer: Christine Eschenfelder
Media contact: Paul Ramey, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu