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 Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins  (1807 - 1894)



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Lived/Active: England      Known for: life-size dinosaur and other prehistoric creature sculpture, illustration

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Biography from Drexel University:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (1807-1894), was an English painter and sculptor who created the first life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures (for the Crystal Palace exhibition in Sydenham, London in 1853), and the first articulated dinosaur skeleton for any museum in the world (for the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in 1868). 

A talented and widely published scientific illustrator, he worked for Charles Darwin (creating the fish, reptile and amphibian plates for The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, 1839-1843). He made scientific illustrations for a large number of books from the 1820s to the 1860s, and published several of his own books on animal anatomy, most notably A Comparison View of the Human and Animal Frame (1860), which was used as a source book by artists and scientists alike. 

A friend and colleague of Sir Richard Owen, Thomas Henry Huxley, and other prominent naturalists of the 19th century, Hawkins lectured widely on evolution and other natural history topics in Great Britain and the United States in the years following Darwin’s publication of On The Origin of Species (1859).  His ambitious plans for creating a “Paleozoic museum” in New York’s Central Park ended in disaster when the corrupt politician William “Boss” Tweed had his studio and sculptures of dinosaurs destroyed in 1871. 

Most of his surviving drawings and photographs of his work are now in the archives of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia.

For further information on Hawkins see: All in the Bones: A biography of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins by Valerie Bramwell and Robert McCracken Peck, Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences, 2008.
Submitted by:
Robert McCracken Peck
Curator of Art and Artifacts and Senior Fellow
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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