James Ward was an English engraver and painter from the Romantic period who became primarily known for his depictions of animals and landscape paintings. Ward became one of the most pivotal artists from English Romanticism and even English art as a whole.
James Ward was born in London on October 23, 1769, to a warehouse manager. He was the younger brother of the engraver, William Ward. At first, young James was apprenticed, for a short period, to the British mezzotint engraver John Raphael Smith, before leaving to assist his brother William in his engravings.
Ward first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1792, and soon abandoned engraving to painting animals. At first, he painted livestock and later began to depict horses in heroic and striking landscapes. In 1794, he was appointed as mezzotinter to the Prince of Wales.
Many artists influenced James Ward. However, the artist’s most significant influence was, at first, until 1803, George Morland, who also became his brother-in-law. Later, Peter Paul Rubens became his major reference, dividing Ward’s production into two clear moments. By 1810, Ward began to produce landscapes.
In 1807, the artist became a Royal Academy Associate, and in 1811, was elected as a full Royal Academician. Also, in 1811, Ward created the Gordale Scar, a gigantic canvas depicting a striking landscape composition, which became one of Ward’s masterpieces and even regarded as a masterpiece of the English Romantic painting.
Between 1815 and 1821, the artist would focus much of his time to the production of a large-scale painting called Allegory of Waterloo, which is now lost. Although an impressive composition, the said painting was met with a lukewarm reception. This experience, combined with the early death of his daughter and wife, probably embittered the artist deeply.
Like many artists of the period, Ward provided for himself and his family by seeking commissions by distinguished patrons, painting their steeds, hunting dogs, and his family. One of the said families was the Levett family. Two of the artist’s most known paintings from this period are Theophilus Levett hunting at Wynchor, Staffordshire and The Reverend Thomas Levett, and his favorite dogs, cock-shooting.
The artist outlived his artworks’ fashions, dying neglected and impoverished.
James Ward on November 17, 1859, in Cheshunt, England.