Tuesday, January 30, 2007

J G Raw

The original entry here read "Another Swift Annual contributor about whom I know nothing." Now, thanks to the artist's daughter, we have a great deal more information. I'd like to thank Janet for her help.

Joseph Graham Raw was born on 7 January 1913, he and his five siblings growing up in poor circumstances in Leeds.

Joseph was always something of a dreamer in his youth and discovered a natural talent for drawing at an early age (his father was also something of an artist but only ever painted for pleasure). He earned himself a scholarship to Leeds Art School and, on leaving the school, was employed by Rowntrees of York as an apprentice in their advertising department.

Moving to London in the late 1930s, he married in 1939 and lived in Morden, Surrey, until his wife's death in 1979, subsequently moving in with his daughter in Worcester Park.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Joseph Raw produced a great deal of commercial artwork, both freelance and through agencies, including a number of book covers, cartoon strips (including 'Gloria Monday' in Reveille and 'Terry & Tessa' in Junior Mirror), seasonal artwork for department store catalogues and film posters. The latter included Bridge On the River Kwai (1957), Mother India (1957), The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) and Pirates of Blood River (1962) and at least one Disney film.

According to his daughter, "Dad intensely disliked having to 'work' as a paid artist, having no business or financial acumen, and fervently believed he was being exploited for his talent for fine graphic art. He never encouraged me in any aspect of commercial art, stating that it was a 'rat race' and how he wished he didn't have to paint for a living. Dad was happiest when painting seascapes and scenes of the Yorkshire Dales for his own intrinsic satisfaction.

"He was often privately commissioned to paint portraits/pastoral scenes for friends and family; if my husband and I did not stop him he would have painted these works for a basic nominal fee and sometimes he would not charge at all. I do believe he was acutely embarrassed by his talent and felt guilty about charging a fee for his work.

"Dad was a keen amateur photographer and developed his own prints which he often used as reference material; he loved the changing colours/moods of the sea and was able to accurately capture the turn of a wave as it crashed ashore or the ethereal reflection of moonlight on a blue/black sea.

"In the 70s/80s, he continued to draw and paint, sometimes for himself, sometimes for others. After my mother died, Dad became depressed and remained so until his own death in 1985.

"Dad seemed to detest his talent in so many ways and regarded it as a hindrance. He once said that all he ever wanted to do was to live alone in a cottage on a remote cliff in Cornwall and paint the sea."

Joseph Raw died in 1985, aged 72.

Illustrated Books
Bible Treasure. Written especially for children by Lilian Ryder. Manchester, World Distributors, 1953.

Update -- More Film Posters


  1. Joseph Graham Raw was my father. He was born in Leeds 1913 and died
    in 1985.He had a scholarship to Leeds Art School. He was a prolific commercial artist in the 1950s/60s working through agencies and independently

  2. I have just come across this post.
    It is so sad that many artists were exploited and still are.
    Nowadays artists are more protected though as by law they retain the copyright to their work unless they have specifically sold the rights to someone.
    Most true artists by nature are not business minded either so do not make a fortune from their work.



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