One Hump or Two – Can Be Found at the Zoo

scharf - camel house london zoo“The Camel House at the London Zoo” by George Scharf.

This is one of three commissioned works by George Johann Scharf, for Sir Stamford Raffles who, as President of the Royal Society, formed The London Zoo on Saturday 29th April 1826. As one of the oldest and most famous zoos in the world, sadly Sir Stamford Raffles was its President for only two months before he died.

Water colour painter, draughtsman and lithographer artist, Scharf was born in Bavaria in 1788. He was caught up in the siege of Antwerp in 1814 and present at the Battle of Waterloo in Paris. He escaped and joined the English army, where he was appointed lieutenant of baggage in the engineer’s department. He married Elizabeth Hicks, his landlady’s sister, and lived in a house on St. Martin’s Lane.

During his first years in London, Scharf concentrated on drawing historic events, such as the Westminster Elections of 1818. He then branched out, creating genre images of daily life for a number of London’s scientific institutions, such as the Zoological and Geological Societies and the Royal College of Surgeons.

  • Many examples of his work can be found in the Transactions of the Geological Society.
  • He exhibited his paintings at the Royal Academy from 1817-1850 and was a member of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours.

Most of Scharf’s works are stored in the British Museum.

Scharf died at 29 Great George Street, Westminster, on 11 November 1860, and was buried in the Brompton cemetery. He was survived by his wife Elizabeth Hicks, who sold over a thousand of his drawings and watercolours to the British Museum.

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