Presented is an original, hanging wall chart from the 1955 “History of Life on Earth” series by Austrian paleontologist Erich Thenius and illustrator Fritz Zerritsch. The series consists of ten paintings that show the progression and evolution of mammals, invertebrates, and plants over time. This specific scene is the tenth and final composition. Titled “Quartär Eiszeit-Landschaft” (translated: Quaternary - Ice-age landscape)” the composition features two woolly mammoths walking single file across a snowy, boulder strewn landscape. A herd of caribou is in the background. Small inset illustrations in the lower margins included a numbered key to the animals, plants, and fossils from that time period.
“The History of the Life on Earth” suite series was first conceived as a way to illustrate University of Vienna paleontologist Erich Thenius’ 1955 book “Die Geschicte des Lebens auf der Erde.” Thenius chose the Viennese landscape artist Fritz Zerritsch to produce the illustrations for this book. Resulting in a final completed suite of ten paintings, the suite “represented biotas and ecosystems present in different geologic time.” Starting with the Early Paleozoic period and ending with the Quaternary period, the scenes range from landscapes to underwater marine scenes. Stylistically, Thenius and Zerritsch drew inspiration from well known paleoartists Rudolph Ballinger and Charles R. Knight.
Black and white versions of Zerritsch’s original paintings were included in the back of the book and were referenced throughout the text. The paintings were also mass produced as classroom teaching aids in the form of roll-up wall charts, as seen here. In German-speaking countries, both the book and the hanging wall charts were marketed together. The wall charts were printed by Hofmanndruck Wein, a Viennese printing company. In the United States, the wall chart series was distributed by Denoyer-Geppert Co., an American company specializing in maps, atlases, globes, and models.
Fritz Zerritsch was an Austrian painter and graphic artist based in Vienna. He had his first solo show in 1911 and continued along with a varied career, working as a stamp and banknote illustrator, poster designer, and creator of mosaics, frescos, and tapestries. He is still best known for his painted scenes depicting landscapes and animals. His work can be found in the collections of the Osterreichische Galleria, the Albertina, and other museum collections.
Very good condition overall. Color rotolithograph. Color is bright. Printed signature in the stone. Paper is healthy, cloth backed. Light toning, creasing along the margins from past rolling and storage. Two small surface scratches, not affecting overall image. Attached to a thin, metal roller at top and bottom, with black plastic caps.
Dimensions: 29 1/2" H x 39" W.