London, 1878-1881 Lithographs with original hand-coloring
The cats, in full folio, are depicted in life-like and even narrative poses, amidst the vegetation of their habitats. The plates were a collaboration between two of the nineteenth century's most eminent names in the field of natural history, Joseph Wolf and Joseph Smit. According to Peter Dance (The Art of Natural History, Woodstock, NY 1978), 'Wolf did his best work when the company was to his liking. In Elliot he had a sympathetic patron and in Smit a kindred, if less gifted, spirit.' Wolf not only contributed to some of the most distinguished books on natural history of his own generation; he was an important influence on illustrators who followed in the tradition.