Joseph Wolf was born in Germany to a farming family. Passionate about sketching, Wolf was apprenticed to a firm specialising in lithography in 1836. After his apprenticeship, he settled in Darmstadt and became an illustrator of birds, portraying the animals in natural settings, conveying movement and character. In 1848, Wolf accepted an invitation to work at the Natural History Museum in London. He was also commissioned by the Zoological Society of London to illustrate journals and sketch rare and exotic animals arriving from the British colonies. Wolf's detailed observation of animal behaviour led to his collaboration with Charles Darwin on the book 'The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.' Wolf's reputation made him the illustrator of choice for returning explorers who comissioned him to illustrate their encounters with, and escape from, fierce animals. Wolf taught Archibald Thorburn, and is regarded as one of the forefathers of ornithological watercolours.