According to Algernon Graves's 1905 volume, Joseph Syddall lived at Old Whittington, Chesterfield and exhibited three paintings at the Royal Academy: Miss A. E. Spong (1898), Portrait of a Gentleman (1899), and Miss Eric Byron (1904). In his earlier Dictionary of Artists Who Have Exhibited Works in the Principal London Exhibitions From 1760 to 1893 (1895) Graves does not list Syddall, leading one to conclude that the fourth artist in the collaborative team which illustrated the serialisation of Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles was relatively unknown until the close of the century. Syddall's contributions to that project seem the least important, for he has produced fewer plates for it (five) than any other artist, and these are smaller, occupying a total of only two and three-quarter pages.

However, these were not the only works by which Sydall may be remembered. As well as his paintings, there were his works on paper. Praised by the Drawing Master of Bushey, Sir Hubert von Herkomer, the celebrated German-born painter and illustrator, for the excellence of his pencil drawings, Sydall was elected to the Royal Academy of Art in 1898. Villagers of Dronfield in Derbyshire remember him still for his memorial there to the First World War. — Philip V. Allingham

Five Illustrations for Hardy's Tess of the Durbervilles (1891)



Allingham, Philip V. "The Original Illustrations for Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles Drawn by Daniel A. Wehrschmidt, Ernest Borough-Johnson, and Joseph Sydall for the Graphic (1891)." The Thomas Hardy Year Book, No. 24 (1997): 3-50.

Graves. Algernon. The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work from its Foundation in 1769 to 1904. Vol. 4. London, 1905.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the Graphic, 1891, 4 July-26 December, pp. 11-761.

Jackson, Arlene M. Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981.

Created 10 January 2005

Last modified 1 May 2024