WOLF, Joseph (1820-1899)
Felis Rufa [Bobcat ]
[London: Daniel Giraud Elliot for the subscribers, circa 1878-1883]. Hand-coloured lithograph by J.Smit after Joseph Wolf, printed by M. & N.Hanhart. Sheet size: 18 3/4 x 23 3/4"
A very fine image from 'the best animal painter who ever lived' (Sir Edwin Landseer).
The Bobcat, also known as Bay Lynx, ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Named for their distinctive short, "bobbed" tails, they are approximately twice the size of a domestic cat.
One of the most striking images from Elliot's magnificent work A Monograph of the Felidae or Family of Cats (London: 1878-1883) which described and pictured all the species of cats then known, and is still the most beautiful work on the subject. The work was prompted by a perceived need to resolve the confusion that had built up around the naming of the various species of Felidae , particularly amongst the smaller cats. Wolf worked from specimens provided by Elliot, who visited all the great museums and zoological societies on both sides of the Atlantic. This allowed Elliot to make a comparative study of skeletons and skins and reduce the number of apparently separate species by nearly a third.
Joseph Wolf served an apprenticeship with a Koblentz firm of lithographers, and spent some time working in Leiden and Darmstadt, before moving to London in 1848. The quality of his images was recognized immediately and he was rarely without work, producing natural history pictures of the highest quality for the Zoological Society of London, Henry Dresser, George Gray and John Gould, amongst many others. Wolf's work for Elliot marks the high-point of his illustrative work and his images of the cats are considered by many to be his masterpieces.
Cf. Nissen ZBI 1279; cf. Wood p.332.