WOLF, Joseph (1820-1899)
Felis Pardina [Eurasian Lynx]
[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: 23 5/8 x 19 inches. Hogarth.
A very fine image from 'the best animal painter who ever lived' (Sir Edwin Landseer).
`The Lynx is one of the major predators of the colder regions of Europe and Asia, feeding on deer, hares and rabbits. They inhabit coniferous forests from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe across Siberia to Northern China, and are also found in Tibet and the mountains of Central Asia. There are more isolated populations in the Iberian Peninsula, Greece, The Balkans, Turkey, northern Iran and the Caucasus; there have also been attempted reintroductions to the Alps in Central Europe. General colouration is light or reddish brown, often with a frosting of white hairs particularly in the winter coat. The coat may be spotted although this is variable; animals from the southern parts of the range are particularly heavily marked, often more brightly coloured, and smaller. Length up to 50" overall; weight from 10 to 55lb... The Spanish Lynx Felis (Lynx) lynx pardina is sometimes classified as a separate species. It is a heavily spotted form which once occurred throughout the Iberian Peninsula, now rare and restricted to a few scattered mountainous areas and the scrubland and thickets of the Guadalquivir Delta' ( The Natural History Museum Library Big Cats A selection of magnificent illustrations by Joseph Wolf London: 1991, pp.40-42).
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.