The art of Aloys Zötl, 1803–1887


Le caïman (1849).

Two things that everyone seems able to tell you about Austrian artist Aloys Zötl is that his idiosyncratic bestiary was hailed by André Breton as a Surrealist precursor, and that Zötl’s paintings were published in a lavish edition by Ricci in 1977 with accompanying text by Julio Cortázar. Typically for a Ricci book, those editions now sell for excessive sums so we’re left to scour the web for his pictures. Considering their age and Surrealist connections its surprising that there isn’t a decent online collection anywhere. A number of prints can be found on those auction sites which blight the pictures they don’t own with watermarks. Better to look at the examples on this blog or this page at the André Breton site where the copies are small but include quotes from the Ricci volume.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Fantastic art from Pan Books

8 thoughts on “The art of Aloys Zötl, 1803–1887”

  1. Many thanks for those links. I’d never heard of Zotl, but those bestiary paintings are simply ravishing. I’m working on a bestiary myself at the moment… quite a simple chapbook affair, far from these ornate images… but Zotl’s paintings are fantastic evocations of creatures and places, and will stick in my head for a long time.

  2. I saw a nice book on him at the Mona Lisait remainder shop in Paris, you can get it on Amazon France at the moment for 19E.

  3. PS, I bought a paperback book on Zotl about 30 years ago, published by Ricci 1979, and the some years later bought the delux, boxed, Ricci edition, published 1976. (£15 secondhand), and found that it had the same reproductions, same size, as the small paperback, but with them stuck as plates on soft pale blue paper.
    The reproductions are better in the new book by Victor Frances.

  4. Thanks, Clive, I’ve been following the progress of your wonderful wolf pictures. People seem to compare Zötl to Rousseau but his animals are a lot more impressive.

    Gabriel: Germans would no doubt want to tell you that the presence of an umlaut gives the pronunciation “zertl” so the rhyme doesn’t quite work. He painted fish but I’ve not seen any amphibians.

    Paul: Thanks, that removes any nagging desire to spend a large sum on the Ricci edition.

  5. The Ricci book has about 20 frogs and toads, and a creature that looks very like an Axolotl.

  6. Thanks Paul
    You could just mispronounce it as axolertl and anyway my poem is in English.
    “Who won the war anyway?” – Basil Fawlty.
    Walking fish doesn’t scan as well.

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