Did you know that the plural of octopus is actually octopuses? Not as I misbelieved octopi. Octopus is actually a Greek word and not Latin that is why the plural doesn’t end in i. Here I have curated a cool collection of vintage octopus illustrations free to print.
I think my fascination with octopuses started when I first spotted one whilst snorkeling as a child. I just thought they were the most amazing sea creatures.
If I remember correctly octopuses did feature heavily in the illustrated books I read as a child. Often on illustrated alphabet charts, the ‘O’ is a big smiley octopus.
As an adult, my interest in octopuses has become more macabre in that I love to eat them. A treat every year when visiting my parents in Portugal is a trip to the famous Octopus restaurants of Santa Luzia in the Algarve.
Cool Free Vintage Octopus Prints
There are over 300 species of Octopus and they are grouped in the same order as squid and cuttlefish. They live in every ocean in the world, and different species have adapted to different marine habitats.
Scientists regard octopuses as the most intelligent of all the invertebrates. That is because they can learn from experience and have both a short- and long-term memory.
Octopuses have even been observed using tools in an intelligent manner. They are also brilliant at camouflage.
This collection of vintage octopus illustrations have been divided into 2 sections; colour and black and white prints.
To download a higher resolution of the vintage octopus illustrations click on the title above the image.
Colour Vintage Octopus Illustrations
A beautiful vintage octopus illustration of the common octopus from the Gulf of Naples. The octopus drawing is from the book ” I Cefalopodi viventi nel Golfo di Napoli (sistematica) : monografia “ (Cephalopods living in the Gulf of Naples (systematic): monograph) by Comingio Merculiano published in 1896.
The common octopus ( (Octopus vulgaris) is the most studied of all octopus species. It’s a global species whose habitat extends from the Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea and the southern coast of England.
The species diet consists of crabs, crayfish and two-shelled mollusks which it can break into with its beak. The common octopus hunts at dusk. The octopus can camouflage by changing colour to blend into its surroundings.
Another beautiful Mediterranian vintage octopus drawing by Comingio Merculiano. The species of octopus is the white spotted octopus (Callistoctopus Macropus).
The octopus feeds at night by wrapping itself around a coral and probing with its arms among the branches, looking for fish and invertebrates that seek protection there.
A plate illustrating octopuses from Ernst Haeckel‘s Kunstformen der Natur (1904). Ernst Haeckel was a German zoologist and artist who pushed the work of theories of Charles Darwin in Germany.
You can find many more of Ernst Haeckel’s art form illustrations of sea life on Pictureboxblue.
This vintage octopus illustration is from “Mollusques méditeranéens [!]; observés, décrits, figurés, et chromolithographiés d’après le vivant …” (Mediterranean molluscs [!]; observed, described, figured, and chromolithographed from the living ) by Jean Baptiste Vérany.
Another vintage octopus print of a Mediterranean octopus from Jean Baptiste Vérany 1851 octopus identification guide.
I’m sorry I don’t know much about this octopus print except that it is from the book “Die Cephalopoden” by Carl Chun 1910. It was such a lovely print I just had to include it in this collection.
An identification poster of Atlantic octopuses from the book ” Voyage dans l’Amérique méridional” (Travel in South America) by Alcide Dessalines d’Orbigny.
The spider octopus drawing is from the book ” I Cefalopodi viventi nel Golfo di Napoli (sistematica) : monografia “ (Cephalopods living in the Gulf of Naples (systematic): monograph) by Comingio Merculiano published in 1896.
A vintage octopus illustration of a spider octopus from Jean Baptiste Vérany 1851 octopus identification guide.
A painting of a common octopus by the Japanese artist Kawahara Keiga from about 1823.
The is octopus was first discovered off the coast of East Africa. It is from the book “Die Cephalopoden” by Carl Chun 1910.
A second illustration of the octopus above from the same book.
Black and White Octopus Images
Black and white vintage octopus illustration of a webfoot octopus by A. Pollock 1886.
This is one of my favourites and another one of Pollock’s vintage octopus illustrations 1886.
From the same collection by A.Pollock 1886
From the same collection by A.Pollock 1886.
From the same collection by A.Pollock 1886
The kraken is a mythological giant octopus sea monster originating in Scandinavian folklore. According to the Norse legends, the Kraken dwells off the coasts of Norway and Greenland and terrorizes nearby sailors.
This illustration of a Kraken attacking a ship is by the French naturalist Pierre Dénys de Montfort. He studied the existence of gigantic octopuses from being inspired by a description from 1783 of an eight-metre long tentacle found in the mouth of a sperm whale.
If you liked these vintage octopus illustrations then you’ll love these other vintage sea life prints, including the whale drawings of Robert Hamilton.