1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ward, James (painter)

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WARD, JAMES (1769–1859), English animal painter and engraver, was born in Thames Street, London, on the 23rd of October 1769. At the age of twelve he was bound apprentice with J. Raphael Smith, but he received little attention and learnt nothing from this engraver. He was afterwards instructed for over seven years by his elder brother, William Ward, and he engraved many admirable plates, among which his “Mrs Billington,” after Reynolds, occupies a very high place. He presented a complete set of his engravings, in their various states, numbering three hundred impressions, to the British Museum. While still a youth he made the acquaintance of George Morland, who afterwards married his sister; and the example of this artist's works induced him to attempt painting. His early productions were rustic subjects in the manner of Morland, which were frequently sold as the work of the more celebrated painter. His “Bull-Bait,” an animated composition, introducing many figures, attracted much attention in the Royal Academy of 1797. A commission from Sir John Sinclair, president of the new agricultural society, to paint an Alderney cow, led to much similar work, and turned Ward's attention to animal-painting, a department in which he achieved his highest artistic successes. His “Landscape with Cattle,” acquired for the National Gallery at a cost of £1500, was painted in 1820–1822 at the suggestion of West, in emulation of the “Bull of Paul Potter” at the Hague. His “Boa Serpent Seizing a Horse” was executed in 1822, and his admirable “Grey Horse,” shown in the Old Masters' Exhibition of 1879, dates from 1828. Ward also produced portraits, and many landscapes like the “Gordale Scar” and the “Harlech Castle” in the National Gallery. Sometimes he turned aside into the less fruitful paths of allegory, as in his unsuccessful “Pool of Bethesda” (1818), and “Triumph of the Duke of Wellington” (1818). He was a frequent contributor to the Royal Academy and the British Institution, and in 1841 he collected one hundred and forty examples of his art, and exhibited them in his house in Newman Street. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1807, and a full member in 1811, and died at Cheshunt on the 23rd of November 1859.

Ward compiled an autobiography, of which an abstract was published in the Art Journal in 1849.