'The Hippopotamus' by Josef Wolf Click to enlarge image
'The Hippopotamus' by Josef Wolf Image: James King
© Australian Museum Research Library

Gould in his later years was reputed to say that 'there was only one man in the world who could do justice to a splendid creature such as a pheasant, and that was Mr Wolf.'

The birds of Great Britain. By John Gould, F.R.S., &c. ...
Eagle Owl, Bubo maximus Photographer: Australian Museum Photography © Australian Museum Research Library Image: Leone Lemmer
© Research Library

Josef Wolf was already a respected natural history artist when he moved to London in 1848. Gould admired Wolf and would have liked him on staff, but Wolf only contributed illustrations on a freelance basis for The Birds of Asia and The Birds of Great Britain.

The greatness of Wolf's animal art was in his ability to capture a moment of suspended action combined with sound physiological knowledge. He voiced his disappointment with some of the Richter and Hart lithographs of his originals, feeling that they were less lifelike, the backgrounds busy, and they were overcoloured.

Apart from his illustrations for Gould, Wolf was responsible for Zoological sketches - a highly acclaimed publication commissioned by the Zoological Society of London. Published in two series between 1856 and 1867, the Australian Museum Research Library is fortunate to hold both series of this rare work.

'The Hippopotamus' by Josef Wolf
'The Hippopotamus' by Josef Wolf Photographer: James King © Australian Museum Research Library Image: James King
© Australian Museum Research Library