January 21 is the birthday of German artist Joseph Wolf. Wolf lived from 1820 to 1899 and was born a farmer, but became a pioneer of wildlife art. Unlike his contemporaries, who drew posed animals in a studio, Wolf observed animals in their natural habitat, showing their grace and personality. One of my favourites is this illustration of the leopard – I can feel its power and wariness nearly jump off the page.
Wolf illustrated works by David Livingstone, Alfred Russell Wallace, and Charles Darwin, and was invited to work at the British Museum. Once he’d joined British society, the Zoological Society of London commissioned him to draw exotic new animals from the British colonies, such as the gorilla, elephant, hippopotamus, and giraffe.
Imagine – being the first person to capture these animals for Western eyes! He must have inspired a whole generation of young kids seeing these animals for the first time. I’d think it was similar to my own early-1980s obsession with sketches of dinosaurs.
Zoolg* is a low probability typo. For more possible errors when typing zoology, see Carol’s entry from January 3, 2008.
(Leopard illustration by Wolf courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)