Joseph Josiah Dodd (British, 1810-1894), pencil and watercolor, signed, inscribed and dated ‘Rouen Cathedral/North Entrance/JJ Dodd 1864/Bangor N Wales’ (lower right), 23″ x 15″
Joseph Josiah Dodd was born in Liverpool in 1809, the son
of Joseph Dodd, a baker and his wife, Sarah Phillips. The
family moved to Tunbridge Wells in Kent, where a second
son, Charles Tattershall Dodd was born in 1815. Both brothers became artists.
By the 1830s, J.J. Dodd was gaining a reputation as a topographical artist and engraver. He contributed illustrations for James Northcote’s Fables and was employed to design lithographs
for John Britton’s Descriptive Sketches of Tunbridge Wells in 1832.
When the young Princess Victoria visited Tunbridge Wells in 1835, she was presented with a specially bound volume of watercolours of the town painted by Dodd. His work was exhibited in the Royal Academy and at the Royal Society of British Artists. By 1838 he was in Paris, and some pencil drawings of French towns have survived from this period.
By 1843 Dodd had settled in Manchester and worked as a drawing master at a local school. From 1848 to 1850 he was a teacher of geometry, perspective, architectural and mechanical
drawing at Manchester School of Design, and continued to exhibit his own work. He married Harriet Binns, the daughter of a Stretford joiner, in 1850.
They soon left Manchester for North Wales and were listed in the 1851 Census as living in a house in Castle Ditch, Caernarfon. They had four children. Dodd was one of several engravers who produced editions of Hugh Hughes’ map of North Wales, caricatured as an old woman carrying a sack on her back, entitled Dame Venodotia alias Modryb Gwen.
Slater’s Directory 1858-59 lists Dodd as Architect and Surveyor, and was also described as drawing master to Lady Newborough. In about 1859, the Dodd family moved to Bangor. His reputation amongst local art collectors was well established by the 1860s.
In 1869, a Fine Arts and Industrial Exhibition was held at the Penrhyn Hall, Bangor, in aid of the building funds of St. Mary’s Church and the new school at Glasinfryn. Dodd was responsible for superintending the exhibition arrangements and the hanging of the pictures. About fifteen of his watercolours were shown, all on loan from well-known local middle-class and artisan families. His paintings were hung alongside examples of European high art borrowed from the collections of some of the most notable North Wales families, including Lord Penrhyn and Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. The exhibition included works by Canaletto, Gainsborough, Reynolds, David Cox and Thomas Creswick.
At the National Eisteddfod at Bangor in 1874, Dodd was initiated to the Gorsedd in recognition of his contribution to various eisteddfodau. By 1888, he had left Bangor, and was living in Oldham, Lancashire, where he spent the last few years of his life. He died on June 20th 1894, aged 86 years, at the home of his son in Royton, near Oldham.
Dodd must be considered as a talented though untrained artist, who produced work of a high if
sometimes variable quality. His views of foreign churches and towns are remarkably accomplished. His merit as an artist is as a recorder of places, to which he adds charm and information of historical interest. Whilst he may not have the natural fluency of the trained artist he produced some strong,
“Every one of his pictures exhibits upon its face a combination of minuteness of
detail with breadth of style and powerful colouring. In the representation of ecclesiastical
architecture – and notably in the richness of the foreign cathedrals – Mr Dodd
stands unrivalled, but his style so far from being confined is wonderfully extensive
– he paints a landscape with almost the same power that is apparent in his buildings.
What Creswick has done in oil Mr Dodd has accomplished in watercolour.”
North Wales Chronicle, 14th August 1869.