Bronxville Historical Conservancy brings Rhoda Knight Kalt to share dinosaur days with Toppy, a famous Bronxville paleo artist
Charles Knight, former Bronxville resident and American wildlife and paleo artist, known only as “Toppy” to his granddaughter, Rhoda, is best known for his paintings of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. In the early 20th century, the American Museum of Natural History turned to Knight to bring their fossil collection to life for museum visitors. He spent his lifetime creating spectacular murals, paintings, and sculptures of dinosaurs, mam- moths, and cavemen that were scientifically accurate.
In the fall of 2018, young villagers gathered at the Bronxville library to meet Rhoda Knight Kalt, hear about life with grandfather, and read from her book, Tigers and Tea with Toppy. As Ms. Kalt recounted, every weekend as a small child she accompanied “Toppy” to the museum while he worked. As her grandfather painted, little Rhoda watched in awe as the massive fossils unpacked by the museum’s paleontologists were transformed into living, breathing creatures on Toppy’s canvases and sculptures. With a nostalgic smile, Rhoda told the children that every outing with Toppy — those visits to the American Museum of Natural History, to the Central Park Zoo, to tea parties at The Plaza Hotel — was filled with fun and adventure.
Art historian Jayne Warman introduced Ms. Kalt and thanked her for three of Knight’s paintings she gifted to the Con- servancy Art Collection. She also mentioned “Congo,” a small-scale pygmy elephant sculpture given to the library by Charles Knight, and currently displayed in the Burt Gallery. Two tiger heads still greet all those who enter the Park Avenue home and studio where Charles Knight and his wife, Annie, used to live.
Children left with an autographed copy of the book, along with a “make-your-own-mural” kit to create their own museum piece of history!