Art and palaeontology in German-occupied France: Les Diplodocus by Mathurin Méheut (1943)
Published:January 01, 2010
Jean Le Loeuff, 2010. "Art and palaeontology in German-occupied France: Les Diplodocus by Mathurin Méheut (1943)", Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective, R. T. J. Moody, E. Buffetaut, D. Naish, D. M. Martill
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Geologist Yves Milon, the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences of Rennes, hired the painter Mathurin Méheut in 1941 to produce a large mural decoration for the new Geological Institute. This resulted in a little known 130 m2 artwork that includes a Mesozoic triptych, the genesis of which is described here. The work was executed during the World War II, when Milon's illegal activities in several English intelligence services-led Resistance movements possibly prevented him from supervising the artist's work and which led to some anatomical inaccuracies. This decoration has survived several threats and constitutes a unique example of a large decorative palaeontological artwork in France. It has a special place in the history of dinosaur reconstructions as the choice of a decorative painting style is far from the usual forms of natural history illustration.
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Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective
The discovery of dinosaurs and other large extinct ‘saurians’—a term under which the Victorians commonly lumped ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and their kin—makes exciting reading and has caught the attention of palaeontologists, historians of science and the general public alike. The papers in this collection go beyond the familiar tales about famous ‘fossil hunters’ and focus on relatively little-known episodes in the discovery and interpretation (from both a scientific and an artistic point of view) of dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Mesozoic world. They cover a long time span, from the beginnings of ‘modern’ scientific palaeontology in the 1700s to the present, and deal with many parts of the world, from the Yorkshire coast to Central India, from Bavaria to the Sahara. The characters in these stories include professional palaeontologists and geologists (some of them well-known, others quite obscure), explorers, amateur fossil collectors, and artists, linked together by their interest in Mesozoic creatures.