In a breath of inspiration in 1830, English geologist Henry De la Beche (1796–1855), while exploring new intellectual territories in the emerging fields of paleontology, painted Duria Antiquior (meaning “a more ancient Dorset”), a representation of a prehistoric Dorset coast. De la Beche’s work was groundbreaking—his artwork combined science and art in the first artistic rendering of a paleontological scene, while laying bare the secrets of the past. Before 1830, art depicting the prehistoric world did not exist and these realms were unknown to the public (Porter, n.d.). While it is true that scientists made drawings of fossil animals and exchanged them with each other in private letters, the public had no concept of how prehistoric animals looked. This painting opened people’s imagination to new visions, thoughts, and beliefs.
|Fig. 1. Duria Antiquior. A watercolor painted in 1830 by Henry De la Beche who conjured up a vivid picture of an ancient world. Duria Antiquior is now in the National Museum of Wales. (Image is public domain)|
Fig. 2. Portrait of Mary Anning with her dog, Tray. This painting was owned by her brother, Joseph, and given to the Natural History Museum, London in 1935 by Mary's great-great niece, Miss Annette Anning. (Image is public domain)