Charles Robert Knight
(1874-1953) was born in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of six Knight began copying animals from the dictionary. His fascination of animals evolved and by age nine he was already drawing animals from life at the Bronx Zoo. At the age of twenty, Knight received his first commission by the American Museum of Natural History to paint a watercolor of the Elotherian, a prehistoric animal that lived 30,000,000 years ago. Knight studied in both France and the United States. In Paris he was a student under Fremiet and Gerome, and in the United States he studied under George De Forest Brush. The body of his work include large murals, paintings, bronzes, drawings and lithographs. Knight has been considered the most eminent artist in his field for his very lifelike portraits of prehistoric human beings and the animal world. Perhaps his most important work is the large series of murals at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Knight's work however was commissioned for a number of museums and institutions throughout the country, among them the Rose Kennedy Center (formerly Hayden Planetarium), New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum, California; Chicago Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois; National Museum, Washington, D.C.; Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; The National Park Zoo, Washington, D.C.; National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.; Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C.; and the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey.
Knight, drew from life, rendering every particular animal with the same incisiveness and individuality as if he had been drawing or painting a human being. Numerous illustrations appeared in practically every important magazine or newspaper in towns and cities throughout the country: National Geographic Magazine, World's Work, McClures, Century Magazine, Outdoor Life Magazine, Natural History Magazine, Harper's Magazine, Scientific American, The New York Herald Tribune and Sunday Magazine, The New York Times and Sunday Magazine, The New York Evening Sun, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post among others. Knight was also a devoted lecturer whose talks were illustrated with color slides of his very own paintings and drawings. Reproductions of Knight's paintings, murals and drawings occur in hundreds of textbooks, scientific articles and scientific books. Among his later books are the following titles: Animal Drawing; Before the Dawn of History; Life through the Ages; and Prehistoric Man.
Knight believed he was born with a prophetic interest in animals, which only increased and grew over the years. His work in the Bronx is interestingly at the place where he began his earliest renderings: on the north side of the Elephant House at the Bronx Zoo.