This painting, titled "Tasmanian
Wolf and Cubs", is the work of famed natural history illustrator Charles
R. Knight. Produced sometime between late 1902 and May of 1903,
it was inspired by a female and her young which went on exhibit at the
National Zoo in Washington, DC in September 1902.
The painting appeared in the 1903 edition of "Animals of the Past",
by Frederic A. Lucas. Lucas served as director of the American Museum
of Natural History, New York City, from 1911 to 1923. He wrote many
papers on the anatomy of birds, on fossil vertebrates, and on museum methods.
In Lucas's book, Knight states of the thylacine's
"By some authorities,
the Tasmanian Wolf is supposed to be a semi-plantigrade animal, which would
seem a correct view if one studies simply the bones and the anatomical
character. I could distinguish very little of this formation in the
living specimen, the legs of which appeared to be almost as straight as
those of a dog. There is no doubt, nevertheless, that at one time
it may have rested on the whole foot from the heel to the toe, just as
a bear does at the present time. The pads of the foot, which in a
dog cover only the bottoms of the toes, are in this instance continued
in the fore foot to the wrist and in the hind foot to the heel, a narrow
strip of naked skin showing in each case".
Below is a slightly
different, monochrome version of Knight's painting (note the differences
in the vegetation, and the female's much straighter tail).
| Along with
the painting of the thylacine mother and cubs shown above, another of Knight's
artworks featuring the thylacine appears in the article "The Tasmanian
Wolf", by Charles R. Knight and Annis Hardcastle Knight, in "The
Century Magazine", Vol. LXVI, No.1, May 1903, pp. 113-115. This
highly ornate illustration (shown at right) compares the physical characteristics
of the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana), Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus
cynocephalus) and Timber-wolf (Canis lupus), including drawings
of their skulls.
Knight was involved
with the American Museum of Natural History for at least 50 years, and
is best known for his depictions of dinosaurs and other extinct animals.
He was among the first to portray life reconstructions of species such
as Tyrannosaurus rex.
From the 1890s through
the 1950s, Knight shaped the public's perception of dinosaurs - and many
other prehistoric life forms - probably more than anyone else.