Charles Darwin's revolutionary ideas on evolution, set forth in On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), stirred people's imaginations, often towards the strange and horrific. The latter book, for example, ignited the "gorilla wars"--disputes over the closeness of apes' relationship to humans.
Though Darwin himself felt that humanity's inheritance from animals was largely positive, the public was more interested in frightening King Kong-like depictions of man's closest relatives, especially the woman-stealing ape, as shown in this sculpture.
The images in this gallery come from the museum show Endless Forms, on view at the Yale Center for British Art starting February 12, the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. The collection explores how artists interpreted and misinterpreted Darwin's science to create fantastical versions of our past, present, and future.
Gorilla Abducting a Woman by Emmanuel Fr??miet (1887)