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Telephone: 0131 226 6932 or 0845 388 5879
46 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3NH, Scotland (TSOH)

Biography and current catalogue for

Joseph Crawhall RSW (1861-1913) 

Born in Morpeth on 20th August 1861, Crawhall was one of the most talented and highly regarded artists ever produced by Scotland. His favourite subjects were horses, dogs and other animals, often painted on linen or silk. He is recognised as one of the most important horse painters of the twentieth century and his intimate knowledge of animals and birds can also be clearly seen in his work.

George Denholm Armour, a fellow artist and hunting companion wrote, in his autobiography "Bridle & Brush" ... Joe Crawhall, "Creeps" (as he was known in Morocco), was one of the party, as he was in most of the sporting events in which I took part. What his previous experience was, I know not, but he was a beautiful natural horseman, and in Tangier was our champion jockey...
Both hunting mad, upon their return to England, the two friends ran a small stud at a farmhouse in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire. They painted, hunted and roistered together and Crawhall continued to influence his friend’s work; the household only broke up in 1898, when Armour married, with Crawhall standing as best man. While they were running their stud, Armour bought a racehorse ... I bought at Leicester, a racehorse that had won several hurdle races, Hackenden by name. He traced back to some of the best blood in the book, including Beeswing and made a good hunter after giving me some rough rides. He, however, proved to be a rig (horse-dealer's trick?) and turning him out along with some shire mares upset his temper so much that I sent him up to Albert Gate (Tattersall's horse auction at Knightsbridge Green). His speciality was kicking very high for the first five minutes after being mounted, and that I did not spend most of my time remounting was due to the fact that he did not lower his head when doing it, thus enabling me to do many a backward crawl into the saddle.... I have already referred to Crawhall as a great artist; I think he was the best animal painter of his time and he did some of his finest work during the time we lived together. Crawhall made Armour an amusing and typically rapid watercolour sketch on the back of an envelope of this horse, kicking high while Crawhall (caricaturing his own rather long pointed nose) attempts to groom the beast.


Although he worked extremely rapidly, he was a great perfectionist and he once discarded a picture, retrieved from the waste bin by a friend, which later won a gold medal in Munich. This perfectionism, coupled with his early death, from emphysema (he was a heavy smoker), account for the small volume of surviving work. He died in London on 24th May 1913, aged 51.

Exhibited RA (2), RSA (22), RSW (22), GI (8) & L (12), and is represented in the NGS, V & A, Glasgow AG, Kirkaldy AG and Newport AG.