Josi, Christian (DNB00)

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JOSI, CHRISTIAN (d. 1828), engraver and print-dealer, was a native of Utrecht, where he was educated in the Rhede Renwoude Institute. Showing a taste for fine arts rather than for mathematics, he was sent to London as a pensioner of the institute. Here he remained five years, studying engraving under John Raphael Smith, and also, it is said, under Bartolozzi and C. M. Metz. Josi returned to Holland after marrying the daughter of Jan Chalon, a Dutch painter then resident in London, and settled in Amsterdam, where he practised as an engraver, and also set up as a dealer in prints and paintings by the old masters. On the death of his relation, Cornelis Ploos van Amstel, in 1800, he inherited that amateur's collections, including a number of facsimiles in colour of drawings by the great artists of the Netherlands, which van Amstel had got together for a book on the subject of Dutch Art. In 1810 he completed a catalogue of the Ploos van Amstel collection of etchings by Rembrandt, which were sold by auction in Amsterdam on 31 July 1810. The catalogue, which is of great value, contained a portrait of Rembrandt, etched by Josi himself. The occupation of Holland by the French (1810–1814) brought all Josi's artistic works and business to a standstill. On the evacuation of Holland by the French Josi broke up his establishment in Amsterdam, and in 1815 was one of the committee selected to go to Paris to recover the works of art taken thither from Holland by Napoleon. In 1819 he finally settled in England, bringing his family and large private collections with him. He settled in Gerrard Street, Soho, in the house formerly occupied by Dryden, and continued to practise as engraver and print-dealer. In 1821 he completed, with a long introduction, Ploos van Amstel's work, ‘Collection d'imitations de dessins d'après les principaux maîtres hollandais et flamands,’ which he dedicated to the king of the Netherlands. Josi died at Ramsgate in November 1828. His collections were sold by auction in March 1829, the sale occupying twelve days. His own engravings are of no particular merit, but as a connoisseur he had great repute.

Josi, Henry (1802–1845), keeper of the prints and drawings in the British Museum, son of the above, was born at Amsterdam in 1802. In 1815 he accompanied his father to Paris, and removing with him to London in 1819, was sent to Dr. Burney's school at Greenwich. Subsequently he assisted his father for some time in his profession, but eventually set up a business of his own as print-seller in Newman Street. On the death in 1833 of John Thomas Smith [q. v.], keeper of the prints and drawings in the British Museum, Josi was a candidate for the post, which was given to William Young Ottley [q. v.] On Ottley's death in 1836 Josi was elected to the office, which he filled till his death on 7 Feb. 1845. During his tenure of office several important additions to the collection were made, including the Sheepshanks collection of Dutch and Flemish etchings, the collection of engravings by Raphael Morghen, and the Coningham collection of early German engravings. Under him the department was transferred to a new room at the end of the Elgin room, where it remained until 1886.

[Josi's Preface to Ploos van Amstel's work mentioned above; Immerzeel's Levens en Werken der Hollandsche en Vlaamsche Kunstenaars; Nagler's Künstler-Lexikon; Gent. Mag. xlviii. (1828) 572, new ser. xxiii. (1845) 320; Art Journal, 1845, p. 69.]

L. C.