WOLF, Joseph

1820 - 1899

Joseph Wolf

As Mathias Wolf, he was born at Mörz near Münstermaifeld then in Rhenish Prussia, now Germany, on 21 January 1820, eldest son of Anton Wolf, a farmer. During his boyhood he assiduously studied bird and animal life, and showed a remarkable capacity as a draughtsman of natural history subjects. Mathias, who took the Christian name of Joseph, was apprenticed for three years to a firm of lithographers, Gebrüder Becker at Koblenz. Wolf travelled to Frankfurt and introduced himself as a lithographer to the ornithologist Eduard Rüppell (1794-1884). Rüppell was just beginning to work on his birds of Abyssinia and encouraged Wolf to work for him, either by living in Frankfurt or Darmstadt where he suggested Wolf could work for Johann Jakob Kaup (1803-1873). Wolf moved to Darmstadt but went on working on Rüppell's 'The Birds of North-East Africa'. In 1847, he left Darmstadt to join the Antwerp Academy to learn Dutch oil painting techniques and in 1848 came to England from Belgium and began work at the British Museum on Gray's 'The Genera of Birds' becoming the preferred illustrator for explorers and naturalists which David Livingstone (1813-1873), Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) and Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892), he also contributed to the Zoological Society's publications for some thirty years. Wolf exhibited at the Royal Academy 1849-1891, and together with John Gould (1804-1881), visited Norway. He also exhibited at the Suffolk Fine Art Association [q.v.] exhibition at Ipswich in 1850 'The Dying Partridge' and contributed to the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition in Fitzroy Square, London in 1857. In 1891, a 71 year old unmarried 'artist painter', living at Primrose Hill Studios, Fitzroy Road, St Pancras, London and where he died on 20 April 1899. (The life of Joseph Wolf, animal painter, by A. H. Palmer 1895).

Works by This Artist