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Hermann Schlegel

Hermann Schlegel

"The finest work on Falconry which has ever been produced; not only on account of the beauty of the plates, wherein the hawks are depicted life-size and of the natural colours, but also for the general accuracy of the letterpress ... Exclusive of the ornamental title-page..., there are 16 folio plates, 2 of which are illustrative of
Heron Hawking at the Loo, in 1844, with portraits of contemporary falconers; 2 others contain figures of hoods, jesses, lure, and other accessories; and the remaining 12 give life-size coloured figures of the hawks employed by falconers, admirably drawn by Joseph Wolf and J.B. Sonderland" (Harting, Bibliotheca Accipitraria 194).

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Items 1 to 30 of 41 total

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According to the exhibition catalogue (1993) on falconry books in the Dutch Royal Library (The Hague) most likely only 100 copies were printed of which nowadays no more than 50 copies can be located. Joseph Wolf (1820-99) was undoubtedly the finest wildlife painter of the Victorian era. His art broke the mould of conventional animal portraiture and entered new territory by depicting nature as itself. He painted animals in their natural habitats, considered their points of view and revealed their moods and behaviours--allowing the viewer to glimpse the reality of the everyday lives of the hunters and the hunted. His passion for nature and art was apparent from early childhood. A solitary boy, he spent his free time in the woods and fields around his home, intently observing the birds and animals. He scrutinised their secret lives--the fights for dominance, acts of submission, alertness of predator and prey. He sketched and painted at every opportunity which infuriated his hard-working father, Anton. He persuaded his parents to allow him to become an apprentice at Becker Brothers, the notable firm of lithographers in Koblenz in 1836. For the first time Wolf had access to a variety of books and was exposed to the wildlife art of others--he immediately knew he could do better. When his apprenticeship was completed he set off to find work. He travelled through various German towns looking for employment and was finally advised to visit Dr Ruppel, an eminent ornithologist, who instantly commissioned work. In 1841 Wolf moved to Darmstadt. His skills in lithography opened the door to his development into one of the first and finest true bird artists. The lithographic crayon transformed his soft, expressive lines and subtle suggestions of movement into a printable image. He produced each work in charcoal, pen and ink, and finally watercolour--only then would the lithograph be made. This style of illustration would become the norm by the mid twentieth century. Dr Ruppel introduced Wolf to Hermann Schlegel from the Rijks Museum of Natural History in the Netherlands. Schlegel subsequently invited him to contribute 12 life-size illustrations of birds of prey to a book he was working on, the Traité de Fauconnerie. This book went on to become one of the most popular bird books of its time, and significantly helped to establish Wolf's reputation.
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