Cartwright, Joseph (c.17891829), marine painter, whose early life is obscure, is first recorded while working for the British services in an administrative capacity. After the Ionian Islands had come under British protection in 1815, he served in Corfu as paymaster-general to the British forces in the region. While there he produced watercolours of local landscapes and maritime scenes, some of which formed the basis for the twelve coloured aquatint plates in his Views in the Ionian Islands, published in 1821. He had returned to England by the early 1820s and thenceforward pursued a career as an artist, exhibiting maritime scenes and pictures of naval engagements at the Royal Academy, the British Institution, and the Society of British Artists' galleries in Suffolk Street from 1823 to 1829. Scenes with Italian titles exhibited in 1827 and 1828 may indicate a visit to Italy at that time. He was elected a member of the Society of British Artists in 1826 and in 1828, the year before his death, was appointed marine painter in ordinary to the duke of Clarence, later William IV.
A number of Cartwright's watercolours and pencil sketches survive in the collections of the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts. A large canvas showing the burning of the French flagship L'Orient at the Battle of the Nile, exhibited with the Society of British Artists in 1826, Cartwright's election year, is in the Royal Collection. A pair of smaller paintings, entitled The Battle of Trafalgar and The Battle of the Nile, were exhibited at the British Institution in 1825. Cartwright died unmarried at his home, 39 Charing Cross, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on 16 January 1829. His estate, amounting to £300, was left to his brother William, then residing in the Ionian Islands.
Paul A. Cox
Redgrave, Artists · Annual Register (1830) · J. Cartwright, Views in the Ionian Islands (1821) · Graves, RA exhibitors · Graves, Brit. Inst. · J. Johnson, ed., Works exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists, 18241893, and the New English Art Club, 18881917, 2 vols. (1975) · O. Millar, The later Georgian pictures in the collection of her majesty the queen, 2 vols. (1969) · will, TNA: PRO, PROB 6/205, fol. 192r
Wealth at death
£300: will, TNA: PRO, PROB 6/205, fol. 192r