Seasonal greetings

by Ann Sylph on

This beautiful watercolour painting of wapiti is a lovely seasonal image.

The painting is signed in red by the artist Joseph Wolf and is dated 1881. It depicts two adult males, probably painted from living specimens at ZSL London Zoo.

Watercolour painting of two adult male wapiti in the snow by Joseph Wolf, 1881
Watercolour painting of two adult male wapiti in the snow by Joseph Wolf, 1881


Joseph Wolf (1820-1899) was born in Germany into a farming family where he acquired his lifelong love of wildlife. He trained as an artist and lithographer. His magnificent paintings of birds of prey, in life size for H. Schlegel and A.H. Verster van Wulverhorst’s famous book Traité de Fauconnerie (1844-53), sealed Wolf’s reputation on the Continent but there were greater opportunities for natural history artists in England.

Wolf did not hesitate when he was encouraged to come to London in 1848 by D.W. Mitchell to share with him the illustration of G.R. Gray’s Genera of birds (1844-49). Mitchell was also the Secretary of ZSL and wanted an accurate artistic record of its newly acquired and attractive animals. Wolf got that commission too; the start of a life-long association with ZSL. In 1848 ZSL's scientific journal, Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (PZS) was published with colour illustrations for the first time.

Over the next 30 years Wolf produced 340 colour plates for the Proceedings which were some of the most attractive ever published

This particular painting was conserved and remounted by paper conservators pH7 with funds from the Michael Marks Trust.

If you are a ZSL Fellow or Member please do also visit the ZSL Library. Others are also very welcome but please do bring photographic ID and proof of address when you visit, see the ZSL Library Collection for details. ZSL Fellows may borrow post-1940 books from the ZSL Library.

ZSL Library is open weekdays 9.30am to 5.30pm but is closed on bank holidays and will be closed for Christmas Holidays. ZSL Library will close on Friday 23rd December and re-open on Tuesday 3rd January.

Find out more about  ZSL Library Collection  explore and discover our collections further using our online catalogue

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