Joseph Southall (1861 - 1944)

Five sketchbook sheets, circa 1916

SKU: 2579

Pencil and watercolour, 4 1/2 x 6 3/4 in. (11.4 √ó 17.2 cm.)


Height – 17.2cm x Width – 11.4cm


Estate of Mrs A.E. Southall; Mrs Elizabeth Baker ; Mr and Mrs Peyton Skipwith.

Variously signed and inscribed:
Come Out of That’ ‚Äì John Bull threatening the anti-conscriptionists
More Taxes for the Poor/ More Riches for the Rich’
Appeal Tribunal 30.iii.1916 – J S Taylor, Pritchett and Geo. Ryder
To Fight against German Militarism’, London 10.iv.1916
Sheet of Studies 22.vii.1916 – Geo. Lansbury, Hon Bertrand Russell and F.W. Jowett MP

Provenance: Estate of Mrs A.E. Southall; Mrs Elizabeth Baker ; Mr and Mrs Peyton Skipwith.

came from distinguished Quaker and Chartist stock, and was involved in
radical politics in Birmingham from the mid-1890s. He was an ardent
pacifist, serving for many years as Chairman of the Independent Labour
Party, although he was expelled from the official Labour Party for
supporting a Communist against Sir Austen Chamberlain. In one of his
sketchbooks for 1913 he defined what he regarded as the three greatest
evils threatening Europe at the time: The military system, the factory
system and the clerical system. ‘With the advent of war in 1914 he set
about fighting these through his art, denouncing jingoism, lampooning
John Bull, and caricaturing the military as well as the tribunals set up
to hear the cases of conscientious objectors. Many of these satirical
cartoons were published in pamphlet form, the most famous being The
Obliterator (1918), which sarcastically proclaimed that it was supplied
impartially to all civilised Governments and has given entire
satisfaction. It is guaranteed to leave nothing standing and nothing
breathing’. In addition to attacking the system through pen and pencil
he attended many pacifist and other left-wing meetings, always with
sketchbook to hand.Whilst participating in the debate, he would quietly
observe and draw those with whom he shared the platform, as in the case
of the present sheet with its neat studies of George Lansbury, Bertrand
Russell and F.W. Jowett. Southall’s war was a war againstWar . (For an
extended account of Southall’s political and pacifist views, see George
Breeze, Joseph Southall and the Pursuit of Peace’, in SixtyWorks by
Joseph Southall, 1861–1944, exh. cat., Fortunoff Collection, Fine Art society, London, 2005.)

We are grateful to Peyton Skipwith for the above catalogue note.

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Joseph Southall
1861 - 1944

Southall was
born in Nottingham of Quaker parents,
and was taken by his mother to Birmingham
when his father died the following year. In
i874 he entered
the Friends’ School.
Bootham, where he was taught
by Edwin Moore (brother of Albert and
Henry). Four years later he joined
the Birmingham
firm of architects, Martin and Chamberlain, but in 1882 he left to concentrate
on painting, attending the
Birmingham School of Art where he met A J
Gaskin, henceforth his closest friend, and
other members of
the Birmingham
Group. About the same time he set­
13 Charlotte Road, Edgbaston, his home for the rest of his life. In 1883 he
spent eight weeks in
Italy, absorbing the early masters, and on his return he began to experiment with tempera. Meanwhile, through an uncle, he had made the acquaintance of Ruskin, who commissioned him to design a museum for
the Guild of St George at Bewdlev (1885);
came to nothing but took him
again to Italy.
He also
received encouragement from W
B Richmond and
Burne Jones, to whom he
paid visits in London
(1893-7). In 1895 he began to exhibit at the RA (Car. 72),
showing there till 1942, while also support­ing the New Gallery (1897-19o9), the RBSA (Associ­ate 1898. member 1902)
and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society shows (1899-1923). In 1901, together with J D Batten, Walter Crane and others,
he helped to found the Society of
Painters in
Tempera, and he was
undoubtedly the single most
exponent of the tempera revival. Though
never, like so many members of the Birmingham Group, on the staff of the local Art School,
he gave
lessons on tempera painting
in his Edgbaston studio and lectured on the subject widely. As well as literary
figure subjects, he painted genre scenes, portraits and landscapes; his wife Anna Elizabeth, a first cousin whom he married in 19o3, appears in many of his pictures,
and often helped to decorate their elaborate gilded
frames. Southall was a leading figure among
Birmingham Quakers, a Socialist and pacifist; he campaigned vigorously
against the conduct of the
Great War,
during which he painted the fresco of ‘
Cor­poration Street, Birmingham, in March 1914′, on
the stair­case of the Birmingham
Art Gallery, (completed in 1916)
In later life he joined the NEAC and RWS (1925), participated
joint exhibitions with other
Birmingham and
tempera painters, held a number of one-man shows (notably at the Alpine Club 1922), and,
building on
the success of an
exhibition at the
Georges Petit
in Paris in 1910, established a
considerable inter­
national reputation. He and his wife paid frequent visits to Italy,
sometimes with Charles and Margaret
Gere; also to France, Southwold and Fowey, where
he found many subjects.
In 1933 he was appointed Professor of
Painting at the RBSA (President
and in 1937 began a fresco in the Council House. It was not, however, completed; that August he under­went a major operation
and never fully recovered, dying in 1944. A
memorial exhibition was held at Bir­mingham, the RWS
and Bournemouth the following


SKU: 6909

Joseph Southall (1861 - 1944)

Woman gathering beach grass 1.VIII.1886


SKU: 6903

Joseph Southall (1861 - 1944)

Sable Fur, 26.III.1910