top of page

Josiah Wood Whymper

Description Josiah Wood Whymper (1813 - 1903). United Kingdom. A Shepherd Leading a Group to Shore. Watercolor. Measure 19 1/2 x 29 1/4 inches.

Josiah Wood Whymper 24 April 1813 – 7 April 1903 Haslemere) was a British wood-engraver, book illustrator and watercolorist.

Early life and education

Born the son of a brewer, Whymper was apprenticed to a stonemason. He soon turned to drawing and painting, settled in London in 1829 and studied under William Collingwood Smith (1815–1887).

Career as illustrator

After having an etching of London Bridge published, he became well known as an illustrator and worked for Black, John Murray, Cassell and other publishers. His wood-engraving enterprise became one of London's most successful. He also painted watercolours, specialising in riverscapes, and gave drawing classes to pupils such as Charles Keene (1823–1891), John William North (1842–1924), George John Pinwell (1842–1875) and Frederick Walker (1840–1875).

He also produced fine engravings of animals, fish, landscapes and wonders of the world for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, sold for 3/4d penny plain, 2d pence coloured. In 1846 Whymper made thirty engravings about dramatic natural phenomena such as the aurora borealis, whirlpools and icebergs.

Whymper exhibited in the London and Provincial Galleries and was elected an associate of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1854, becoming a full member in 1857.

Whymper's set of engravings for Charles Alexander Johns's British Birds in Their Haunts (1862) after drawings by Joseph Wolf is widely regarded as his finest work. He made some of the engravings for Henry Walter Bates's 1863 The Naturalist on the River Amazons. He also produced the wood engravings for the Life and Habits of Wild Animals (1873–74) with the help of his sons Charles, Frederick and Edward, and provided illustrations for Joseph Dalton Hooker's Himalayan Journals (1854) and David Livingstone's Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi (1865). He was in charge of the illustrations for Picturesque Europe (1875).

Josiah Wood Whymper

1813 - 1903

Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia, PA


bottom of page