Rudolph Franz Zallinger (November 12, 1919 – August 1, 1995) was an American-based Austrian-Russian artist notable for his mural The Age of Reptiles (1947) at Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History. His painting of Tyrannosaurus heavily influenced the creature design of Toho Studios' Godzilla (1954). Two of Zallinger's dinosaurs, T. rex and Brontosaurus, are seen in the film as part of a slide demonstration during a lecture in the National Diet Building. A third slide showing Zallinger's Stegosaurus was planned but eventually not used in the film.
Zallinger was born in Irkutsk, Siberia in 1919. He attended Yale's School of Fine Arts on scholarships during the Great Depression, was trained as an illustrator, and he taught at Yale after graduation. The Peabody Museum hired him to paint the mural in 1943 at $40 a week, and Zallinger took a crash course in paleontology to prepare for the job. The mural is one of the largest in the world, measuring 110 feet (33.5 meters) by 16 feet (4.9 meters). It required more than 4.5 years (1943–1947) to complete. A portion of the mural appeared on a United States postage stamp in 1970. After that, the museum appointed him as the “artist in residence”, a position he held until his death.
Zallinger received many assignments, prominent among which are those he did for illustrating articles for Life magazines. His paintings portrayed dinosaurs, the Russian Revolution, the rain forests of Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) and the Minoans of ancient Crete, besides others.
He taught at the Yale School of Fine Arts, the Hartford Art School at University of Hartford in West Hartford, and at the Paier School of Art in Hamden.
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