Born 5 March 1814
Died 9 January 1882
Active: 1837 - 1881
Country of birth: Wales
Country of death: England
Sculptor, studio assistant
Born at Ynysgau, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, Wales. He was the son of John Edwards, stone cutter. Joseph assisted his father from an early age, producing his first stone tablet at the age of seven.
When he was twenty-one Joseph moved to London with a letter of introduction to William Behnes. He was taken on as a studio assistant and two years later (1837) entered the Royal Academy Schools. In 1838 Edwards left Behnes' studio to work for Patrick MacDowell and assisted him in the production of the 'Triumph of Love' and 'Virginius'. Edwards began assisting Matthew Noble in 1860 and on the latter's death in 1876 was asked to supervise the completion of his outstanding works. This was a substantial task and on its completion Edwards found himself in straightened circumstances. However, with the assistance of his friends, Thomas Woolner and George Frederic Watts, Edwards became a Turner annuitant, receiving financial aid from the Royal Academy.
Throughout his career, Edwards also worked on his own account primarily as a sculptor of funerary monuments and portrait busts. He was a slow and painstaking worker with the result that he was often underpaid for his commissions. Among Edwards' pupils were Frederick Winter and Walter Merritt. They were commissioned to produce a memorial to Edwards for Highgate Cemetery. He died at 40 Roberts Street, Hampstead Road, London. Edwards lived and worked at nos. 40 and 42 for most of his career.
This entry is based on research by Sylvia Allen published in Roscoe (2009) and Peter Lord (2004).
Wealth at death: £473 11s. 5d.
Probate date: 7 March 1882
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The last dream
Medallion of a lady
Exhibitions, Meetings, Awards and other Events
Beneficiary of Turner Fund (Royal Academy of Arts), 1856-1951
19 July 1881
Elected as 'Turner Annuitant' in 1881. See Royal Academy, 'Annual Report, 1881', 1882, p. 23.
Exhibited at The International Exhibition, London, 1862
Exhibited at The Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts (Summer Exhibition), 1768-
1838 - 1878
Exhibited 28 times, showing a total of seventy works (usually between 2 and 4 per year).
Exhibited at Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations (London), 1851
Institutional and Business Connections
Member of Institute of British Sculptors
1856 (Circa) - 1861 (Circa)
Personal and Professional Connections
Pupils included Walter Merrett
After Edwards' death in 1882 Merrett and fellow student, Frederick Winter, were commissioned to make a memorial to their teacher for Highgate Cemetery.
Pupils included Frederick Winter
After Edwards' death in 1882 Winter and fellow student, Walter Merrett, were commissioned to make a memorial to their teacher for Highgate Cemetery.
Studio assistant to William Behnes
1835 - 1838
Either assistant or pupil
Studio assistant to Patrick MacDowell
Edwards assisted MacDowell in making the ‘Triumph of Love’ and ‘Virginius’
Studio assistant to Matthew Noble
1860 - 1876
After Noble's death in 1876, Edwards completed his outstanding commissions and disposed of the plaster models in the studio
Teacher to William Lorando Jones
Descriptions of Practice
Listed under Sculptors Post Office London Directory, 1851 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
Listed under Sculptors Post Office London Directory, 1860 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851
'Sculptor', a John Crofs (or Crofts, or Cross) a 'Historical Painter' also at this address
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1841
HO107 piece 686 folio 7/20 page 35
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851
HO107 piece 1493 folio 226 page 13
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861
Class: RG9; Piece: 95; Folio: 102; Page: 73; GSU roll: 542572
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881
Class: RG11; Piece: 177; Folio: 99; Page: 18; GSU roll: 1341038
Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
Name: Joseph Edwards Probate Date: 7 Mar 1882 Death Date: 9 Jan 1882 Death Place: Middlesex, England Registry: Principal Registry
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
See: Peter Lord, ‘Edwards, Joseph (1814–1882)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/60088, accessed 22 Jan 2009]
Rules of the Institute of Sculptors
The Builder, Vol. XII, No. 598, 22 July 1854
22 July 1854
pp. 387, 388
Citing this record
'Joseph Edwards', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib1_1203345998, accessed 20 Feb 2017]