Born in Villach in 1838, learned the carpentry trade in his father’s workshop and took drawing lessons from the Villach landscape painters Canciani and Rumpold. He went to Munich early on (1860) to further his education and then to Düsseldorf (1866-1889).
Afterwards, back in Munich until his death in 1915. He lived and worked with his brother Ludwig and was also influenced artistically by him. For both of them, in addition to the Munich School of Landscape Impressionism, the French School of Barbizon was the source from which they drew their most important artistic impulses.
His studies of nature “anticipated some practices of mature Impressionism in their sketchy lightness” (Otto Demus).
The two brothers preferred to stay in Bernried am Starnberger See, and in the summer months also in Viktring near Klagenfurt, which kept them in constant contact with their home in Carinthia.
Josef Willroider bequeathed the entire artistic estate of his native Villach in his will.