Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Allen, Joseph William

ALLEN, JOSEPH WILLIAM (1803–1852), landscape painter, the son of a schoolmaster, was born in Lambeth and educated at St. Paul's School. He was some time usher in a school at Taunton, but gave up teaching for art. He painted first in water-colours, latterly for the most part in oils. He found his first employer in a dealer. Afterwards he took to scene-painting, and was associated in this work with Charles Tomkins and Clarkson Stanfield. He painted much of the scenery of the Olympic for Madame Vestris. Allen took an active part in establishing the Society of British Artists, and latterly exhibited only in the Suffolk Street Gallery. An important painting by him in 1842 attracted much attention, and was sold for three hundred guineas. In the following year he painted a companion picture, ‘Leith Hill,’ which was hardly less successful. He was drawing-master in the City of London School from its foundation. He died in August 1852, leaving a widow and large family. ‘His works were of some merit,’ his subjects well chosen, and not without artistic feeling, but ‘crude and unfinished.’ This is Redgrave's criticism, which agrees with that of Nagler. Ottley's praise is not modified by any censure. He etched some landscapes, of which a specimen may be seen, as well as a characteristic water-colour drawing, in the print-room of the British Museum.

[Ottley's Recent and Living Painters, 1866; Nagler's Künstler-Lexicon, ed. 1872; Redgrave's Dictionary of Painters; Gent. Mag. October 1852.]

E. R.