Joseph Barber was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1758 and came to Birmingham as a designer of papier-mache goods. He then settled here as an artist and drawing master, with studios in Edmund Street and Newhall Street until his death in 1811. Of his five children, Charles his eldest son (1783-1854), went to Liverpool to teach drawing, and painted in both oils and water colours. A friend of David Cox, he often accompanied him to North Wales on painting trips. Charles exhibited regularly at the Liverpool Academy of Arts, of which he was a member from about 1822. He becameTreasurer and then President from1847-53. During 1810-50 he exhibited 56 works at the Royal Academy, at the Old Water Colour Society and elsewhere.
Joseph Vincent Barber (1788-1838), his younger son, was a student of his father and carried on his drawing school in Birmingham. He was one of the founders of the first Society of Birmingham Artists in 1809 which developed into the Birmingham Academy of Arts, of which he became Honourary Secretary. He stopped teaching in 1837 and died in Rome the following year.
His three daughters Maria, Eliza and Ann Matilda also taught drawing and were mainly floral painters who exhibited in both Birmingham and Liverpool.This pen and ink drawing of a thatched barn in Handsworth, is a typical example of the work of Joseph Vincent Barber, the younger son of Joseph Barber.