Jul 26, 2020

Duria summer challenge!

Back at the beginning of lock down the Getty museum challenged us to recreate famous works of art with objects from around the home (#GettyMuseumChallenge). As soon as I heard about it I knew I had to make the Duria Antiquior. Despite it’s size, you might have missed the ‘Duria’, high up on a wall in the Jurassic pond area of the museum.

Category: 2020
Posted by: Nicola

We are all familiar with children’s books full of colourful recreations of Jurassic dinosaurs but what you might not know is that the ‘Duria Antiquior, a more ancient Dorset’ is the first picture of prehistoric life to be based on fossil evidence. It paved the way for the more familiar paleoart you might recognise in books and the museum.

Duria originalThe first version was painted in 1830 by geologist Henry De le Beche. The animals he recreated are based on fossils collected by Mary Anning in Lyme Regis. Henry knew Mary and when she had financial difficulties he had George Scharf make lithographs of his painting and sold them to raise funds for her.

De la Beche used Duria Antiquior painting to help Mary Anning - but there is an uncomfortable side to this story. His money, and hence his ability to support her, came from slave plantations that he owned in Jamaica.

Duria FarrenAround 1850 Robert Farren painted this large version for Adam Sedgwick’s study and we think Professor Sedgwick might have used it in his lectures. If you look closely there is one detail from the original that Robert left out. In Henry’s version the plesiosaur right in the middle is doing a poo. Fossil poo (coprolites) were found by Mary Anning and played an important part in reconstructing life in Jurassic Dorset. But perhaps for reasons of taste Robert left the poo out of his painting for Sedgwick.

Recreating the painting with household objects was a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to seeing how our visitors rise to the challenge of making their own ‘Duria’ fossils. Keep a look out on social media starting Monday 27th July for challenges #DIYDuria

Until I started to recreate my own version I had no idea how much detail is packed in to the painting. Things I had never noticed before like the fossil ammonites in the rock on the left hand side, and the variety of fish. More fish it turns out, than the variety of bath toys I have.

DIY Duria

Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm

Saturday: 10am - 4pm

Sunday: Closed

Free entry

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