Science Art: Dinner in the Mould of the Iguanodon, by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, 1854.


A paleontological dinner party, as drawn by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, the sculptor who also made the dining accommodations – an Iguanodon. Nowadays, we know (or think we know) that Iguanodons look different than that: they stood up more like chickens than iguanas, and the spiky bits were on their thumbs, not their noses.

I found the image at Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, but I saw it first thanks to the Linda Hall Library, which printed the following description:

[H]e is best known for a series of sculptures that he did for the reopening of the Crystal Palace, after it had been moved to Sydenham in 1854. Hawkins created life-sized sculptures of a variety of prehistoric animals, including the three known dinosaurs at the time: Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus. These were the first attempts ever to make life restorations of Mesozoic reptiles….

Hawkins fabricated all of the reconstructions in his studio, building iron frames around which his beasts were cast in concrete from giant molds, and then hand painted…. The concrete behemoths were allowed to languish throughout much of the 20th century (especially after the Crystal Palace burned down in 1936), since they depict dinosaurs in poses that are no longer deemed accurate, but in the last 30 years it has been realized that these are truly historic creations and should be not only preserved but treasured.