A Dinosaur For The Living Room!

by Abigail Levasseur '24 on October 9, 2022
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Zephyr the Iguanodon Is up for Auction

Here’s something you do not hear every day: a dinosaur fossil is going up for auction in France this October! The skeleton is currently being held at the Giquello & Associés auction house in Paris, France. This is Alexandre Giquello’s sixth dinosaur fossil auction, and he says this new fossil “is a dinosaur for a living room.” The skeleton is roughly three feet high and is almost ten feet long; it is about the same size as a Bengal tiger.

The fossil dates back to the upper Jurassic period, an estimated 150 million years ago, and has been given the name “Zephyr.” The name was derived from “Zephyros,” the Greek God of “the west wind.” The name is an homage to the fossil’s location of death in Skull Creek. It just so happened that a team of construction workers were digging in Skull Creek when they struck a series of bones in 2019. Further inspection led to the discovery of Zephyr in 2019.

Zephyr is of the genus “iguanodon.” The name was invented by an English geologist named Gideon Mantell, who discovered an iguanodon in a quarry at Whiteman’s Green in Sussex, England in 1825. However, there is much debate over who found the first iguanodon teeth: Gideon Mantell or his wife, Mary Ann. Mantell invented the name “iguana-saurus,” as the teeth appeared similar to those of an iguana, and it was not until later that a friend convinced Mantell to change the name to “Iguanodon.

Iguanodons are equipped with huge thumb spikes, capable of fending off predators, and fifth fingers, used for gathering food. They are herbivores, which means their diets consist solely of plants and trees. Scientists also claim that Iguanodons had the ability to alternate between bipedalism and quadrupedalism—two legs and four legs, much like a monkey. However, research shows that as the Iguanodon evolved into a larger, heavier species, it began focusing on quadruped movement. The species also had toothless beaks and prehensile tongues, so they could grab tree leaves like giraffes.

Believe it or not, Iguanodons have made their way into popular culture. The character “Aldar” in Disney’s 2000 movie, Dinosaur, is an Iguanodon, as well as the characters Neera, Kron, and Bruton. The Iguanodon is also one of the three species of dinosaur that inspired Godzilla, along with the Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus. You can also see glimpses of Iguanodons in the cartoon movie series A Land Before Time. However, to much disappointment, the Iguanodon did not make the cut for the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchise.

Zephyr, the Skull Creek Iguanodon, will be up for auction on Oct. 20 and has an estimated worth of $495,000. Who will pay half a million dollars to have a full dinosaur skeleton on display in his/her living room come Oct. 21? Only time will tell.

Van Gogh Watercolor to be Sold at Auction

by The Cowl Editor on November 4, 2021


Van Gogh Watercolor to be Sold at Auction

A Look at Wheatstacks‘ Complicated History

Claudia Fennell ’24

In 1888, famous artist Vincent van Gogh traveled to the French countryside while he was in poor health. While there, he became infatuated with the farming lands around him, which inspired him to create several watercolor paintings depicting “Meules de Blé,” or “Wheatstacks.” Some of these paintings simply show the harvested wheat itself, while others, including one particular watercolor titled Wheatstacks, include women working in the fields as well. 

During this time in his art career, Van Gogh was influenced heavily by Japanese art and Wheatstacks, with graphic-like brushstrokes, is an example of how Japanese artwork inspired him. Japanese art influenced so many Western European artists that the French eventually coined the term “Japonisme” to refer to the influence Japanese art had over European artists in the late 19th century. 

Wheatstacks has changed hands several times since Van Gogh created it in 1888. The painter first gave the piece to his brother, Theo, who sold it to a Jewish man named Max Meirowsky in 1913. Meirowsky held onto the piece for some time, before the chaos of World War Ⅱ forced him to flee and he gave the piece to an art dealership. Soon thereafter, it was bought by Frenchman Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild, who also fled his home when the war broke out. When the Nazis invaded France, they looted de Rothschild’s property. The Nazis stole her art collection, including Van Gogh’s watercolor, and in 1941 they placed it in a museum titled Jeu de Paume, where they stored many of their stolen goods. 

After the war, de Rothschild tried to reclaim Wheatstacks but struggled to do so. The piece eventually ended up at a gallery in New York City where it was purchased by Texas oil businessman, Edward Lochride Cox. Following Cox’s death, disputes broke out between Meirowsky, de Rothschild, and Cox’s family over who had rightful ownership over the piece. Eventually, the parties came to a settlement agreement: the profits from the piece would be divided among the three of them. 

Wheatstacks has not been seen by the public since 1905 when it was on display with some of Van Gogh’s other works at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Now, the piece is being sold by the auction house Christie’s, who estimate that it could be auctioned for anywhere between $20 and 30 million. Wheatstacks is expected to break a record for the highest selling price for a paper Van Gogh work. The previous record was from his piece “La Moisson en Provence,” which sold for $14.7 million in 1997. 

Nazi-looted artwork has been at the center of news headlines for the past few years, as other famous, stolen pieces from artists such as Camille Pissarro and Gari Melchers have been sold at auction for millions. It is important that these valuable works continue to be tracked down and returned to their rightful owners as well as that these rightful owners receive any proceeds from them.