Joseph Webb

AT AN EARLY AGE, JOSEPH WEBB was acclaimed a ‘master etcher’; his ecclesiastical-looking structures Rat Barn, widely considered to be his masterpiece, and the iconic Dream Barn, were etched when he was just twenty years old. By 1932, the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum had each acquired five of his prints. Soon he was exhibiting in London, Chicago, New York and the Paris Salon. In 1933, aged 25, he staged his first solo exhibition at P. & D. Colnaghi in Old Bond Street, the most prestigious of the London print dealers and publishers. Its Director Harold Wright was a keen advocate of Webb’s work and, not long afterwards, they collaborated to compile a catalogue raisonné of his prints. Yet despite this early promise and his absolute faith in his worth as an artist, Webb was unable to sustain his reputation and career. After 1933 he made prints only sporadically, finally giving up etching in 1947. Subsequently, he helped his common-law wife manage a café in Reading and, during the last six years of his life, ran a boarding house in South Kensington; few who encountered him would have realised that he was an artist.

Web JW Asylum
Asylum (etching, 1931)

To be continued …

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