# 40484

WOLF, Joseph (1820-1899) (illustrator)

Zoological sketches. (First and second series, complete)

$48,500.00 AUD

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Made for the Zoological society of London, from animals in their vivarium, in the Regent’s park. Edited, with notes, by Philip Lutley Sclater, M.A., F.L.S., &c. &c., Secretary to the Society. London : Henry Graves and Company, Printsellers to Her Majesty, 1861 [actually 1856] – 67. Two volumes, folio, 584 x 435 mm, drop-side clamshell boxes (a little worn and scuffed), half crushed morocco over pebbled cloth, ruled and lettered in gilt with gilt-lettered title labels, ribbon ties; pastedowns with the bookplate of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven; both volumes with hand-coloured lithographed title-page, letterpress title-page, list of subscribers, and list of plates; in total 100 fine hand-coloured lithographed plates by Joseph Smit after Joseph Wolf, all with gilt-lettered captions and single letterpress text sheet accompanying each, with most of the ‘temporary letterpress’ sheets for the second series also present; occasional light foxing to the margins, overall a clean and fine set.


Zoological sketches is unequivocally one of the high points of nineteenth-century natural history illustration. 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 Joseph Wolf, already well-known for his highly skilled published works, to depict these exotic animals in the Society’s Vivarium in Regent’s Park.

Wolf was born in 1820 in Mörz, Germany. He was trained as a lithographer in Münster, and arrived in London in 1848 where he worked as zoological illustrator in the natural history department at the British Museum. He contributed illustrations to John Gould’s Birds of Asia and Birds of Great Britain as well as illustrating important travel books by David Livingstone, Henry Walter Bates and Alfred Russel Wallace.

The plates for Zoological sketches 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, Philip Sclater completed the work, selecting the subjects and writing both the initial letterpress and then the final published text, which was issued with the thirteenth and final part.

The work features numerous Australian birds and animals, including the now-extinct thylacine, Tasmanian wombat, Australian Mycteria, Red kangaroo, Hairy-nosed wombat, satin bower-bird, etc.

Anker 539; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.158; Nissen IVB 1012; BM(NH) V,p.2349; Wood p.633.

Australian collections: National Library of Australia; Australian Museum