a diorama of an art exhibition

in a cabin, under the pepper tree, down by the sea


the diorama background painter

The word diorama can either refer to a nineteenth century mobile theatre device, or, in modern usage, a three-dimensional full-size or miniature model, sometimes enclosed in a glass showcase for a museum.

in no particular order

Charles Shepard Chapman (1879-1962)
Chapman attended the Ogdensburg Free Academy and Pratt Institute, and was elected to the Council of the National Academy of Design in 1926. Chapman worked as an illustrator, but was best known for paintings of wilderness landscapes of the northern and western United States. Chapman painted the background for the mountain lion diorama in the American Museum's Hall of North American Mammals, which features the Grand Canyon.

George Browne (1918-58)
Trained by his father, Belmore Browne, George assisted him in the Hall of North American Mammals at the AMNH. Two of George Browne's background paintings can be found in the 1950s addition to the African Hall at the California Academy of Sciences.

Francis Lee Jaques (1887-1969)
Though Jaques had no formal art training, he was taught background painting by fellow artist Clarence C. Rosenkranz, and rose to become one of the Museum's most respected diorama artists. The majority of Jaques's backgrounds are at the AMNH, where he was employed as an artist from 1924 to 1942. In total he painted backgrounds for approximately eighty dioramas during his career. His diorama backgrounds can also be found at the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis; the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut; the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; the Boston Museum of Science; the University of Nebraska Museum; and the Illinois University Natural History Museum. Jaques is best known for his paintings of birds, especially waterfowl in flight. His greatest contribution to scientific illustration was his accompanying paintings for Robert Cushman Murphy's bookOceanic Birds of South America (1936). Collections of Jaques's bird paintings and studies can be found at the Peabody Museum, the Bell Museum, and the AMNH.

Chris E. Olsen (1880-1965)
Considered an expert amateur entomologist and general naturalist in addition to being a painter, Olsen is best known for undersea exhibits such as the Andros Coral Reef and the Pearl Diver dioramas in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. His work was not restricted to painting, and he was an extraordinary foreground artist and model-maker as well. Olsen retired in 1947 after more than thirty years with the AMNH.

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musée 16