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Joseph Clark was born in 1834 in, Cerne Abbas, Dorset, the son of a draper and calico bleacher. Encouraged by his family to pursue his artistic talents he travelled to London and enrolled with James Leigh, in Newman Street, from where he progressed to the Royal Academy School.

 

He became known for capturing the spirit of Victorian England such as household games happily played by friends and family and also painted many oil paintings of children, which were generally well received by the Victorian public.  Before he started his oil paintings, he normally made a series of precise drawings and expressive watercolours of the chosen subject, frequently using members of his own family as models.

 

In 1857 Joseph Clark submitted his first picture for the Royal Academy Exhibition, entitled The Sick Child; it was accepted. He then exhibited regularly at the RA and at the Royal Institution until a few years before his death.

 

Clark is also known to have sent many of his paintings to America, and in 1876 he was awarded a bronze medal at the Centenary Exhibition at Philadelphia.  In 1877 his painting Early Promise was purchased for the nation and a further painting Mother’s Darling was purchased for the nation in 1885; both paintings are held by the Tate.

 

Joseph Clarke died in 1926, aged 92 years, in Ramsgate Kent.

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