James Ward R.A.

Previous Work


James Ward Artist 1769-1859

James Ward R.A.
Born : London, England 23 Oct. 1769
Died : Hertfordshire, England 16 Nov. 1859

Admitted for membership of the Royal Academy in 1811

Highest prices achieved by James Ward RA at auction

1. €656,550.00 – Christies, London  – 23-11-2005

2. €578,256.00 – Sothebys, London – 07-07-2010

3. $375,000.00 – Christies New York – 06-12-1996

James Ward was an English painter and printmaker and was one of the outstanding artists of the day, his singular style and great skill set him above most of his contemporaries, markedly influencing the growth of British art. Regarded as one of the great animal painters of his time, James produced historic paintings, portraits, landscapes and genre. He started off as an engraver, trained by his brother William, who later engraved much of his work. The partnership of William and James Ward produced the best that English art had to offer, their great technical skill and artistry having led to images that reflect the grace and charm of the era.

He began painting in about 1790 and until about the end of the century he painted mainly anecdotal genre scenes in the manner of his brother-in-law acclaimed artist George Morland, but he then turned to the paintings of animals in landscape settings for which he is chiefly remembered. He had great success with ‘portraits’ of horses, but he also produced pictures in a different vein—dramatic and Romantic in character, with rich colouring influenced by Rubens. His taste for natural grandeur and the Sublime is most memorably expressed in the enormous Gordale Scar at the Tate London, completed in 1814 or 1815 it is considered his masterpiece and a masterpiece of English Romantic painting.

Ward devoted much of the period 1815–21 to the painting of a gigantic work titled ‘Allegory of Waterloo’ (now lost); this neither was much praised nor brought in the revenue Ward had hoped for. The experience may have embittered him, and the deaths of his first wife and a daughter were among other tragedies.

Like many artists of the time, Ward sought commissions from wealthy gentry of their favorite horses, and hunting dogs, or their children. One such family that Ward painted and drew repeatedly and whom he counted among his friends were the Levett family of Staffordshire, England.
One of Ward’s best-known paintings, The Deer Stealer, was commissioned in 1823 for the sum of 500 guineas by Ward’s patron Theophilus Levett. When the work was finished, Levett pronounced himself so delighted with the results that he consequently raised the remuneration to 600 guineas. Subsequently, Ward was said to have been offered 1,000 guineas for the painting by ‘a nobleman,’ which he declined. The painting now hangs at the Tate London.

Ward had many admirers, including Delacroix and Géricault, but he became disillusioned with the art world and lived in retirement in Hertfordshire from 1830. He continued to exhibit, but became something of a religious obsessive. He was the paternal grandfather of the painter Henrietta Ward and the great-grandfather of Leslie Ward the Vanity Fair caricaturist. A stroke in 1855 ended his work, and he died in poverty in 1859 at the age of 90. He is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery
Further reading : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ward_(English_artist)