WOLF, Joseph (1820-1899). Zoological Sketches by Joseph Wolf. Made for the Zoological Society of London, from animals in their vivarium, in the Regent's Park. Explanatory text by D.W. Mitchell and Philip Lutley Sclater. London: Henry Graves & Company, [1856-]1861-1867.
2 volumes, broadsheet (565 x 415mm.) Mounted on guards throughout, letterpress title and text to the first volume window-mounted to match plate mounts. Mounted hand-coloured lithographic titles printed by Vincent Brooks, mounted tinted lithographic title to the first series, letterpress titles, 1p. list of subscribers and text, 100 fine hand-coloured lithographic plates, drawn on stone by Joseph Smit after the drawings of Joseph Wolf, each plate cut to the edge of the image and mounted on thin card in imitation of watercolours, with title printed in gilt lettering beneath, as issued. (Spotting to about 18 plates in vol.I, titles, most text leaves in vol.I and final text leaf in vol.II, plate 6 in vol.II with finger marks to plate area.) Contemporary brown half morocco gilt, upper covers with onlaid morocco lettering-pieces, spines in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in gilt in the second and fourth and at the foot of the sixth compartment, comb-marbled endpapers, g.e. (scuffed, faded and lightly soiled, tear to front free endpaper in vol.I). Provenance: R.H. (armorial bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, with the revised text by Philip Lutley Sclater, and 100 very fine plates after Wolf: 'without exception, the best all-round animal painter that ever lived' (Sir Edwin Landseer). The work was commissioned by the Council of the Zoological Society in 1852, to provide 'an accurate artistic record of the living form and expression of the many rare species of animals which exist from time to time in the menagerie'. The council chose Wolf, already well-known for his work for the ornithologist Rüpell and one Gould's Birds of Great Britain. The plates were issued monthly with the accompanying temporary text for parts I-VII written by David William Mitchell, secretary to the society. On Mitchell's death in 1859, Sclater undertook the completion of the work, selecting the subjects and writing both the temporary letterpress and the permanent text which was issued with the thirteenth and final part. Anker 539; Fine Bird Books (1990) p.158; Nissen IVB 1012; BM(NH) V,p.2349; Wood p.633. (2)