'Joseph Mayer', William Daniels, 1843
Artist: William Daniels (1813 - 1880)
Oil on canvas
Accession number: WAG 7355
Transferred from Liverpool Museum in 1969
Joseph Mayer traded as a silversmith and jeweller in Liverpool's Lord Street, but his passions were collecting and antiquarianism. Especially notable for Wedgwood and other pottery and Egyptian antiquities, his vast collections were one of the greatest gifts received by the Liverpool Museum (now World Museum) in its first years. In Daniels' portrait he is shown in the library of his house in Clarence Terrace, Everton, sitting in a Gothic chair constructed from materials saved from William Roscoe's house, which had been demolished some years earlier. One of the spaniels whose portrait Mayer had just commissioned from the artist Richard Ansdell lies underneath.
Daniels was a portrait and genre painter who was born in Liverpool. He was the son of a brick maker and victualler, late soldier, whom he assisted as a child. He was taken up by the artist Alexander Mosses, who is said to have admired his clay models and drawings on sand at the brickworks, and was his pupil at the Liverpool Academy Schools from 1827 to about 1831. He was also apprenticed to him as a wood engraver for seven years until about 1833. Daniels received no instruction in painting and taught himself at night by candlelight. He turned to portrait painting and quickly became successful. He went on to exhibit at the Liverpool Academy, Liverpool Society of Fine Arts, the Royal Academy, Manchester Royal Institution and in the Liverpool Autumn Exhibitions. He is said to have made an unsuccessful attempt to establish himself in London. Daniels had a prolific output, but despite this did not greatly advance his career or make much money. His style was realistic with strong effects of light and shade and he often used his family as models. Daniels died in Liverpool on 13 October 1880.