West, Joseph Walter (1860-1933)

West, Joseph Walter (1860-1933)

Joseph Walter West was an accomplished painter, lithographer, and illustrator of animals, genre scenes and landscapes. He trained initially in York, under Edwin Moore, and later at the Royal Academy Schools and the Académie Julian in Paris. His works were shown widely at numerous venues including the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists (where he was a member), and the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours (where he was also a member and later its vice-president).

The British Museum, London Transport Museum, and the V&A hold examples.


Fine Art Society, Leicester Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, New Gallery, Royal Academy in London, Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Art, Royal Hibernian Academy, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours, Royal Society of British Artists (Suffolk Street), Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition, Biennale di Venezia - Great Britain.

Public Collections

British Museum, London Transport Museum, V&A Museum, Hull Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Ferens Art Gallery, Royal Watercolour Society, Reading Museum & Town Hall, Scarborough Art Gallery, Southwark Heritage Centre.



Born in Hull, Yorkshire to Alfred West, a seed crusher and corn dealer, and Sarah Ann West (nee Petchell). His family were Quakers of Huguenot descent.


Lived at High Street, Swanland, East Riding, Yorkshire with his parents and siblings.

Studied at Bootham School, York, where he was taught art by Edwin Moore.


Employed as a cashier in an engineering works in Hull.


Moved to London. Studied at Calderon’s School.


Studied at the Royal Academy Schools under Edwin Moore (1813-1893).


Debuted at the Royal Academy with ‘Repulse of the Enemy’. Lived at Easton, Greenhill, Harrow.

Studied at the Académie Julian in Paris.


Awarded a silver medal by the Royal Academy for drawing a head from life.


Lived at 5 West Hampstead Studios, London.


Married Ada Caroline Wise in Croydon, Surrey.


Debuted at the Royal Society of British Artists with three works including ‘The Nightingale’s Evensong’.
Elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists.


Lived at The Sundial, Northwood, Middlesex.


Elected a member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours.


Lived at The Vane, Northwood.


Devoted his time to landscape painting.


Lived at The Vane, Northwood with his wife and their four daughters. His daughter Cicely West (1897-1977) also became an artist.


Appointed Vice-President of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours.


Died in Northwood.


Yorkshire Post

Notable Yorkshire Painter

“Mr. Joseph Walter West, R.W.S., who has died at his home at Northwood, Middlesex, began his career as an artist while still at the Friends' School at Bootham, York, where his notebooks and lesson papers were frequently covered with sketches. He spent his early business years in the engineering works of Priestman Bros. at Hall, where his natural freedom of style became steadied by his practice as a draughtsman.

In a tribute to his fellow artist, Mr. Bertram Priestman said: ‘Mr West was a man of very remarkable character, whose whole outlook on life was a reflection of his personal integrity and conscientiousness. He was rather shy and reserved, and as a result, very few people knew the bigness of his life.’

His boyhood ambition to become a painter was only attained by personal sacrifice of a rigorous character. He saved a modest amount from his wages at Hull, and went to the Royal Academy Schools, living in lodgings at Harrow. There he rose with the sun, sketching in the fields before going to the studio, and again working till dark on his return. Mr. Priestman states that at times he was so short of money that he would save as much as possible of the bread which he used in the studios for cleaning. sketches and have it for his midday meal.

His early work included etchings for the Fine Art Society, and in the commissions executed for them he showed minute attention to detail. One of his most popular works showed a ‘Gretna Green Elopement’ with a horse falling from a shot by the young bridegroom. To get the action of the animal correctly West paid several visits to a livery stable and got the proprietor to throw one of his animals again and again until West finished his sketch.

Though Mr. West's Quaker pictures, in the quaint costumes of a hundred years ago, are well known, it is as a landscape painter that he is best known. personally considered his Italian paintings were the most satisfactory of his works.”

The Advertiser & Gazette

“The funeral of Mr. Joseph Walter West, the artist, whose death at the age of 73 at The Vane, The Avenue, was recorded in our last issue, took place at the Friends Burial Ground at Jordans, on Friday. Mr. West had been a member of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours since 1904, and was vice-president in 1918-20. He was awarded the first silver medal by the Royal Academy for drawing a head from life, and in 1913 one of his Academy pictures, ‘Sunshine, Breeze, and Blossom: Lake Como,’ was purchased by the Chantrey Trustees for the Tate Gallery. In this year's Academy exhibition he is represented by a water-colour, ‘The Crest of the Hill,’ and a lithograph, ‘Energy.’”

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