Zoological Sketches by Joseph Wolf. Made for the Zoological Society of London, from animals in their vivarium, in the Regent's Park. Explanatory text by D.W. Mitchell and Philip Lutley Sclater.

WOLF, Joseph (1820-1899).

Published by London: Henry Graves & Company, 1861-1867., 1867
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2 volumes. Folio (20 x 13 4/8 inches). Letterpress title-pages, list of subscribers. Additional mounted hand-coloured lithographic title-pages printed by Vincent Brooks, and 100 fine hand-coloured lithographic plates, drawn on stone by Joseph Smit after the drawings of Joseph Wolf, each plate cut to the edge of the image and mounted on thin card in imitation of a watercolour, with the caption printed in gilt lettering beneath, as issued. Contemporary half maroon morocco, purple cloth, gilt, all edges gilt (extremities scuffed, edges of cloth lifting, unevenly faded). "WITHOUT EXCEPTION, THE BEST ALL-ROUND ANIMAL PAINTER THAT EVER LIVED" (Sir Edwin Landseer) First edition, with the revised and final text by Philip Lutley Sclater. The plates were originally issued monthly with an accompanying temporary text for parts I-VII written by David William Mitchell, secretary to the society. On Mitchell's death in 1859, Sclater completed the work, selecting the subjects and writing both the initial letterpress and then the final published text, as here, which was issued with the thirteenth and final part. The work was commissioned by the Council of the Zoological Society in 1852, to provide "an accurate artistic record of the living form and expression of the many rare species of animals which exist from time to time in the menagerie". The council chose Wolf, already well-known for his work for the ornithologist Rüpell and Gould's "Birds of Great Britain". Originally from Prussia, Wolf's paintings of wild animals are renowned for their spectacular use of colour: pinks, blues, and greens; for the astonishing realism of feet, fur, and feather texture; and for their detailed backgrounds, which often include smaller but still perfectly painted and fully animated. As a young man he was apprenticed to Gebrüder Becker, lithographers at Koblenz, where he was employed as designer, principally of trade circulars. A chance meeting with Eduard Rüppell, the ornithologist and explorer, "gave him an introduction to the director of the grand ducal natural history museum at Darmstadt, Johann Kaup. Wolf obtained employment in Darmstadt as a lithographer with the publisher Ernst Kern, and in his free time worked for Rüppell, executing drawings for Rüppell's "Systematische Uebersicht der Vögel Nord-Ost-Afrikas" (1845). He was subsequently given illustrative work for Hermann Schlegel and H. Wulverhorst's "Traité de fauconnerie" (1844), but an attack of ague forced his return to Darmstadt, where he attended the art school, going in 1847 to study at the Antwerp Academy. In February 1848, as revolution spread across the continent, Wolf went to London at the invitation of David William Mitchell, secretary of the Zoological Society of London. There he assisted Mitchell with a British Museum-based project, illustrating Robert Gray's "Genera of Birds" (1844-9); afterwards he assisted John Gould with illustrations for "Birds of Great Britain" (1862-73). Two books may be considered especially his, though he did not write the text: "Zoological Sketches" [as here], issued in two series (1861 and 1867), and "Life and Habits of Wild Animals", with letterpress by D. G. Elliot (1874); the latter was reissued in 1882 as "Wild Animals and Birds: their Haunts and Habits" (Clemency Thorne Fisher for DNB).Anker 539; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.158; Nissen IVB 1012; BM(NH) V,p.2349; Wood p.633. Bookseller Inventory # 001867

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Zoological Sketches by Joseph Wolf. Made for...

Publisher: London: Henry Graves & Company, 1861-1867.

Publication Date: 1867

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition

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