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  Thomas Musgrave Joy (1812–1866), self-portrait, c.1839 Thomas Musgrave Joy (1812–1866), self-portrait, c.1839
Joy, Thomas Musgrave [Thomas Musgrove] (1812–1866), genre and portrait painter, born on 9 July 1812 at Boughton Hall, Boughton Monchelsea, near Maidstone, Kent, was the only son of the local squire, Thomas Joy, and his wife, Susanah Tomkin. Although at first discouraged in his early predilection for art, he was sent to London to study under Samuel Drummond. In 1831 he exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time; from the following year, until his death, he exhibited frequently at the Society of British Artists and at the British Institution. His charming conversation and appearance attracted the patronage of Lord Panmure, who placed John Phillip with him as a pupil and encouraged him to study in Paris. A commission from Lord Panmure to paint the portraits of Grace and William Darling, and a dramatic re-creation of the Wreck of the ‘Forfarshire’ (1839, McManus Galleries, Dundee), was particularly welcome: it enabled him to marry Eliza Rohde Spratt in the autumn of 1839, after a seven-year engagement.

In 1841, following a visit by Prince Albert to his studio, Joy was commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint portraits of the young prince of Wales and the princess royal (Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, Berkshire). He also painted several portraits of the queen's favourite dogs. Although he was best-known for his subject pictures—such as Le bourgeois gentilhomme (exh. RA, 1842), A Medical Consultation (exh. RA, 1853), and Prayer (1865)—throughout the 1840s and early 1850s he was also in some demand as a portrait painter. His sitters included Sir Charles Napier and the duke of Cambridge. In 1864 he painted Meeting of the Subscribers to Tattersall's before the Races, which contained portraits of the most noted characters in horse-racing at the bloodstock auctioneers. His successful career as a portrait painter was brought to a close when he began to withdraw from society following the death of his young son (possibly in 1857). However, he continued to produce genre and literary pictures, and his Art Journal obituary suggested that his habits of overwork contributed to a fatal attack of bronchitis. He died suddenly at his home, 32 St George's Square, Pimlico, London, on 7 April 1866; his wife survived him. A sale of his remaining works was held at Christies on 18 June 1866; examples of his work are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. One of his two daughters, , was herself a portrait painter as well as a writer and illustrator.

Suzanne Fagence Cooper


Art Journal, 28 (1866), 240 · Catalogue of the remaining pictures and sketches of that talented artist, the late T. M. Joy (1866) [sale catalogue, Christie, Manson, and Woods Ltd, London, Monday 18 June 1866] · B. Howe, ‘A forgotten Victorian painter’, Country Life, 132 (1962), 792–5 · Graves, Brit. Inst., 312–5 · Graves, RA exhibitors · P. McEvansoneya, ‘Joy, Thomas Musgrave’, The dictionary of art, ed. J. Turner (1996) · Bryan, Painters (1903–5) · M. A. Wingfield, A dictionary of sporting artists, 1650–1990 (1992), 162 · R. Parkinson, ed., Catalogue of British oil paintings, 1820–1860 (1990) [catalogue of V&A] · CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1866) · D. Millar, The Victorian watercolours and drawings in the collection of her majesty the queen, 2 vols. (1995), 127–8


T. M. Joy, self-portrait, oils, c.1839, priv. coll. [see illus.]

Wealth at death  

under £3000: administration, 5 Sept 1866, CGPLA Eng. & Wales