On Saturday, October 13, young children were delighted to spend the morning with Rhoda Knight Kalt, granddaughter of Charles Knight, former Bronxville resident and American wildlife and paleo artist, known simply to her as “Toppy.” The enthusiastic group gathered at the Bronxville library to hear about life with her famous grandfather, and listen as she read from her book, Tigers and Tea with Toppy.
As Rhoda Knight 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 — 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.
A program of the Bronxville Historical Conservancy, now celebrating its 20th year, the event was planned and coordinated by Conservancy board members Jennifer Russo and Lyndal Vermette; art historian Jayne Warman introduced Ms. Kalt and thanked her for three of Knight’s paintings she gifted to the Conservancy Collection. She also mentioned “Congo,” a small-scale pygmy elephant sculpture given to the Library by Charles Knight, displayed in the Burt Gallery. Two tiger heads still greet all those who enter the Park Avenue studio and home where Charles 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.