Irish/English Artists: George William Joy (1844-1925)


Figure 1.--Joy was born in Ireland, but his outlook was British. This reflected his Protestant Huguenot bckground. Nothing demonstrates this more than his perhaps best known painting--'The King's drum shall never be beaten for rebels'. It depicted the 1798 rebellion in Ireland . It was a republican rebellion. The United Irishmen influenced by the ideas of the American and French revolutions, were the principal group fomenting rebellion. Joy painted it in 1891 by which time Irish Home Rule had become a major issue in British politics. It is a classic depiction of a drummer boy. The British drummer boy is protecting a wounded comrad from Irish revolutionaries and has pierced the drum top so the rebels can't use it. Notice there is also an Irush drummer boy.

George William Joy was born in Dublin (1844). While born in Ireland, he identified himself as British and and thought Ireland should be part of Britain. He pursued his career mostly in England. His father was William Bruce Joy, MD. His brother was sculptor Albert Bruce-Joy. They were descendents of an old Huguenot family which had settled in Antrim (1612). His Protestant Huguenot background explains his British, rather than Irish outlook. While Birn in Ireland, Joy might be more correctly included with English artists as he worked mostly in England and had such a British outlook. His father initially intended a military carrer for George who had an aristic and musical bent. He showed some promise as a violinist. A foot injury in an age where soldiers moved by marching meant that a military career was out. Joy was then educated at Harrow School, one of England's great public (elite private boarding) schools. He then turned to art. He studied in London's South Kensington School of Art and later at the Royal Academy under John Everett Millais, Frederic Leighton and George Frederic Watts A fellow students was Hubert von Herkomer. Joy then went to Paris where for 2 years he was a student of Charles-François Jalabert and Léon Bonnat (1868). He met important artists like Gérôme, Cabanel, Jules Breton, Jules Lefebvre und Philippe Rousseau. When he returned to London and soon established himself as an important history and genre painter. He sometines painted religious impages, but primarily Joy is know for his historical images which were ardently pro-British, such as his painting, 'The Kings drums' (figure 1). It also illustates Joy's real forte--the depiction of heroism. Joy never forgot his early military expectations. We see that in his paintings and entered the Artists Rifles where he was known as an excellent shot, representing Ireland on several occassions. Joy became a common exhibitor at the Royal Academy, the Salon des artistes français and the Royal Hibernian Academy. Participation in the Royal Hiberian Academy shows that Joy had not lost interet in Ireland. He became a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (1895). He began to spend spend many winters in Swanage (1896). Tragically both his sons were killed in France durung World war I (1915). He retired to Purbrook where he died.

Family

His father was William Bruce Joy, MD. His brother was sculptor Albert Bruce-Joy. They were descendents of an old Huguenot family which had settled in Protesant Antrim (1612). County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, which of course is why Huguenot refugees settled there. It is surprising that Joy never painted a Huguenot themed work. This Protestant Huguenot background, however, explains his British, rather than Irish outlook. Joy credits hos mother for his imgination. He writes of her, "highly-strung nature, which seemed ever to be living in a land of wondrous possibilities a land bordering on the infinite, in which all beauty dwelt, and which the poet, the painter, and the prophet had peopled for her with high and noble ideals. In these, more real to her even than her everyday life, she lived, and according to them she strove to train her children. She loved the stars, and stepped boldly out into the night. For her the infinite had no terrors. Herself a poet and authoress, she loved all poetry and literary effort. Painting, though she never practised it, was her delight, and painters, to her, the happiest of men. Possessed, too, of a voice that Garcia pronounced to be one of the finest he had ever heard, she was, altogether, an accomplished woman, with sympathies that were almost cosmopolitan. Around her, in youth and middle life, all that was best in literature and art was wont to gather. To her, then, together with the circumstances of my early childhood, I owe my love of art and my delight in music. "

Childhood

George William Joy was born in Dublin (1844). While born in Ireland, he identified himself as British and and thought Ireland should be part of Britain. His father initially intended a military carrer for George who had an aristic and musical bent. He showed some promise as a violinist. A foot injury in an age where soldiers moved by marching meant that a military career was out. Joy writes about a boyhood dream, "A a child and boy I was a dreamer of dreams, and one of my dreams was a strange one. I thought I was standing in my father's house, and from behind the door was watching the arrival of the guests. In they came, one after another ; but who was this little chap coming in with them ? He was about my age, wore clothes like mine, his hair was long and straw-coloured, and lay like a great mat upon his head. Who could he be? He turned and looked me full in the face -- it was myself! Even so do I now feel strangely as I once more encounter myself in these pages." The family apparently traveled a great deal and as a child he was exposed to th great masters in museums. He writes, "Even then I exercised my pencil, for I remember making sketches at the Borghese Palace and of many of the Italian and Alpine villages through which we passed. I also copied the principal figures in Raphael's " Transfiguration " and other pictures, while my father and mother, of course, served as subjects for many of these early sketches. As a boy Joy was torn between the military and painting. "He tells us, "soldeing and art. Soldiering and art were the only two professions I ever thought of seriously. Through an accident, which nearly cost me my foot when twelve years of age, and which caused temporary delicacy, I was, however, pronounced by my father unfit for the " services," and eventually transferred to Harrow."

Education and Training

He attended a kind of early prep school. He writes, "It was thus that I found myself, at the age of ten, with a nomination for Woolwich, at Jeffrey's school on Shooter's Hill. A poor little half-foreigner, who did not know beef from mutton, and who spoke his own language less fluently than French or German, or even Italian." Joy was then educated at Harrow School, one of England's great public (elite private boarding) schools. He writes about Harriw, "There, for nearly five years, under Vaughan's and Butler's head-master-ships, I was, I think, as happy as a boy could be. During all my schoolboy days my pencil was idle, with the exception of a few caricatures of masters and bovs." After Harrow Joy turned back to art, although he tells us, "at heart I desired to be a soldier". He studied in London's South Kensington School of Art and later at the Royal Academy under John Everett Millais, Frederic Leighton and George Frederic Watts A fellow students was Hubert von Herkomer. Joy then went to Paris where for 2 years he was a student of Charles-François Jalabert and Léon Bonnat (1868). He met important artists like Gérôme, Cabanel, Jules Breton, Jules Lefebvre und Philippe Rousseau.

Career

While Born in Ireland, Joy might be more correctly included with English artists as he worked mostly in England and had such a British outlook. He pursued his career mostly in England. When he returned to London from Paris, he soon established himself as an important history and genre painter and had a long career, although he seems to worked less after the-turn-of the 20th century. Several of his paintings are useful to HBC. He sometines painted religious impages, but primarily Joy is know for his historical images which were ardently pro-British, such as his painting, 'The Kings drums' (figure 1). It also illustates Joy's real forte--the depiction of heroism. Joy never forgot his early military expectations. We see that in his paintings and entered the Artists Rifles where he was known as an excellent shot, representing Ireland on several occassions. Joy was an unflinching proponent of Britain. We see this in his depiction of a British court room. Now while English common law has been a great source for good and important component of Western civilization, it is also the case that British law was used as an oppresive instrument in Ireland. His painting of another Brirish drummer boy also shows is admiration for the British. We note one painting of Bonny Prince Charlies which when he painted would have been seen as basicaly aro-Nritish pean to Scotland. Joy also did a few portraits.

Professional Activity

Joy became a common exhibitor at the Royal Academy, the Salon des artistes français and the Royal Hibernian Academy. Participation in the Royal Hiberian Academy shows that Joy had not lost interet in Ireland. He became a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (1895).

Family

Tragically both his sons who voluntered to serve in the British Army were killed in France durung World War I (1915).

Later Years

He began to spend spend many winters in Swanage (1896). Swanage is a coastal town set in a beautiful area in southeast Dorset. He retired to Purbrook in Hampshire where he died.

Sources

Joy, George William. "George William Joy: By himself, (1896).








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Created: 2:48 AM 5/19/2015
Last updated: 2:48 AM 5/19/2015