Louis Paul Jonas

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Date of Birth: July 17, 1894
Place of Birth: Budapest, Hungary
Date of Death: February 16, 1971
Place of Death: Churchtown, Pennsylvania

Born in Budapest, Hungary, on July 17, 1894, Louis Paul Jonas was the third son of a Hungarian mail carrier. His older brothers Coloman and Guy had already taken up the art of taxidermy in Hungary and eventually moved to America. By 1908, the two brothers had saved up enough money to open their own business in Denver, and Jonas Brothers Taxidermy was born.

In 1909, younger brother Louis Paul Jonas immigrated from Hungary to join the business. At the age of 12, Louis Paul began work in Denver based taxidermy business and his brothers were amazed at his exceptional talent for sculpting. As a teenager Louis showed an exceptional talent for sculpture which would serve him well throughout his life. Coloman was amazed at Louis Paul’s “grasp of anatomy and and fine feeling for form and motion in reproducing wild animals in clay and bronze.” 

Later he moved to New York City, where studied under Carl E. Akeley, a noted field naturalist, taxidermist, and animal sculptor. There, they created the African elephant group in the center of Akeley Hall at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York.

The African elephant group in the center of Akeley Hall at the American Museum of Natural History created by Carl E. Akeley and Louis Paul Jonas.

Eventually, Louis Paul and brother, Leslie, would open a taxidermy studio in New York State, while Coloman stayed in Denver, and Guy opened a branch of Jonas Brothers taxidermy in Seattle (later to become Klineburgers). All of their business’ were very successful.

He opened Louis Paul Jonas Studios, Inc in Mahopac, New York, and eventually moved to Hudson, New York. The studio was known for its miniature and full size animal sculptures, taxidermy, and natural history exhibits featured in over fifty museums worldwide

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Louis Paul Jonas created the first full sized dinosaur sculptures for the 1964 New York World’s Fair in the “Dinoland” area, which was sponsored by the Sinclair Oil Corporation. Jonas consulted with noted paleontologists Barnum Brown, Edwin H. Colbert and John Ostrom in order to create sculptures that were as accurate as possible. After the Fair closed, the dinosaur models toured the country on special flatbed trailers as part of a company advertising campaign. Many of the statues are now on display at various museums and parks. The stegosaurus he sculpted for the 1964 World’s Fair now greets visitors to the Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah-Colorado border today. He was the first sculptor to do full size dinosaur models.

Louis Paul Jonas died on February 16, 1971.

Modern Taxidermy: Mounting the Indian Elephant (shown here in abridged form) is a 1927 silent film from the archives of the American Museum of Natural History that documents Carl Akeley’s taxidermy process from the raw hide — fresh from the Faunthorpe-Vernay collection expedition — to finished display, featuring Louis Paul Jonas sculpting and mounting.