Born in London, Samuel Joseph trained at the Royal Academy Schools where he won a gold medal in 1815. In 1821 he moved to Edinburgh where he was in great demand, executing portrait busts of some of the most influential members of the intellectual elite. He was a founder member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1826. In 1829 he returned to London, where he continued to specialise in portrait busts but his naturalistic, individualised style fell out of fashion and he was declared a bankrupt two years before his death. The monument to William Wilberforce in Westminster Abbey, 1838 -40, is an example of his work on a large scale.