Dodd, Joseph Josiah (1809-1880)

Dodd, Joseph Josiah (1809-1880)

Joseph Josiah Dodd was a British painter of topographical views in oil and watercolour.

Topographical Mastery

Somewhat undervalued, the plight of the 19th-century topographical artist is such that many of its leading lights are now unheard of. Dodd is one such case, he produced numerous highly detailed drawings of European sights, yet is consigned to dusty archives. He was the older brother of Charles Tattershall Dodd (1815-1878), a traditional landscape painter who, today, receives greater recognition.

Queen Victoria

Born in Liverpool, the family soon moved to Tonbridge where both siblings produced numerous works depicting the local environment. Clearly of some merit, Queen Victoria was presented with a volume of Joseph Dodd’s watercolours during a visit in 1835.

By 1832, he’d debuted at the Royal Academy with ‘Interior of St George’s Church, Doncaster’ and his career began to flourish. A keen traveller, he soon took to Paris where he lived for around a year. Later returning to France and Belgium to capture various streets and interiors.

During the 1840s, presumably to supplement his income, Dodd took a role as a teacher of drawing, geometry, and perspective at the Manchester School of Design and appears to have stayed there until 1859 before moving to Bangor, Wales.

Bangor, Wales

Following on, he produced some of his best works, particularly those depicting the historic sights of Italy. Inspired perhaps by the great Canaletto (1697-1768), several of these are carefully constructed around a clear vanishing point with mathematical precision. These include ‘The Ponte Santa Trinita, Florence’, ‘Milan Cathedral’, ‘The Doges Palace and the Bacino, Venice’ and ‘The Grand Canal, Bridge of the Rialto, Venice’, which is particularly ‘Canal-esque’.

In his twilight years, having not exhibited at the Royal Academy for some time, he moved to Oldham in Lancashire, where he died aged 86.

Looking back across his oeuvre, one gets the impression of a technically-minded artist who admired historic architecture and precise draughtsmanship. Some of his later works appear to be designed around an underdrawing, which resembles the technique of an architect. Pencil lines (sometimes referred to as etched lines) are visible under washes of watercolour.

Tunbridge Wells Museum holds examples, which are exhibited occasionally alongside those by his brother.


Born in Liverpool, England.

Moved to Tonbridge, England.


Debuted at The Royal Academy with Interior of St George’s Church, Doncaster.


During a visit to Tonbridge, Queen Victoria was presented with a portfolio of Dodd’s watercolours.


Lived in Paris.

C. 1840

Taught drawing at the Manchester School of Design.


Moved to Bangor, Wales.


Died in Oldham, England.

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