Joseph Ernest Sampson was born in Liverpool, England, in 1887. He studied at the Liverpool Institute and later at the Liverpool School of Art, winning many honours including the South Kensington Medal and Scholarship for figure painting. He also spent some time at Académie Julien in Paris and at the Grand Chaumière and Colarossi Academies.
Sampson settled in Toronto, Ontario in 1913 filling the position of Art Director at Stone Limited. It was there that he met Charles Matthews, with whom, he formed Colour-Craft Sampson-Matthews Limited a printing and design company in 1918. Sampson was the senior partner, and President from 1918–1946.
Sampson was known for his portraits, figures and landscapes, working in both watercolours and oils.
Sampson was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists, the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour 1935, theArts and Letters Club Toronto, and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy,1939.
Sampson work is represented in public institutions including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Government of Ontario Art Collection and the Canadian War Museum, among others.
He died in 1946.