Joseph Wolf

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Joseph Wolf (January 22, 1820 - April 20, 1899) was a German artist who specialized in natural history illustration. He moved to the British Museum in 1848 and became the choice of illustrator for numerous explorers and collectors. He depicted animals accurately in life-like postures and has been considered one of the great pioneers of wildlife art. Sir Edwin Landseer considered him ...without exception, the best all-round animal artist who ever lived.


Wolf was the son of a farmer, and was born in Mörz near Münstermaifeld, not far from the river Moselle, in the Eifel region. In his boyhood he was an assiduous student of bird and animal life, and showed a remarkable capacity as a draughtsman of natural history subjects.

At the age of sixteen he went to Koblenz to work for a firm of lithographers, and then in 1840 he moved to Frankfurt. Here he provided the illustrations for Eduard Rüppell's Birds of Northeast Africa.

He next went to Darmstadt where he worked for the director of the natural history museum, Johann Jakob Kaup. His talent was then recognized by Hermann Schlegel of the Natural History Museum, Leiden, who gave him employment as an illustrator.


In 1848 he moved to London, where he worked at the British Museum illustrating George Robert Gray's Genera of Birds. At the Royal Academy he met Sir Edwin Landseer, and he contributed to "Birds of Asia".

John Gould admired Wolf and would have liked him on his staff, but Wolf only contributed...
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