October 17, 2019 @ 10:00 – October 19, 2019 @ 16:00
(Only 10am – 3pm on Thursday 17 October)
James Ward RA 1769-1859 was widely regarded at the time as the leading English animal painter of the early 19th century. His paintings were bought by royalty (George III and the Prince Regent), the aristocracy, for example the Duke of Northumberland, and many others. With virtually no formal or art education Ward progressed from being a highly regarded engraver to election to the Royal Academy in 1811. He was second only to George Stubbs as a painter of horses including the most famous horses of the day: the chargers belonging to the King and the Duke of Wellington among many others. His output was enormous. He himself estimated well before the end of his life that he had produced 4000 paintings and on his death his wife inherited 2000 paintings and drawings. These included a wide range of subjects and genres: picturesque country scenes in the style of George Morland, landscapes, portraits, classical, religious and historical subjects. Ward was ambitious, a dedicated workaholic yet sociable, obsessive traveller around Britain, a religious, dogmatic quarrelsome but caring family man. Today his works are scattered around the world, many of them in the United States. In Britain, the most important public collections of his work are to be found in Tate Britain and the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge. Some fifty other art galleries and museums also contain examples of his work as do some National Trust properties. Many of his works, however, survive in private collections, often still in the families of the original purchasers. The drawings in the exhibition are a small selection from a portfolio of around 400 drawings passed down through the family and owned in the early 20th century by two of Ward’s spinster great granddaughters, the Misses E and M Ward, and from them via a dealer and a private collector back to a different branch of Ward’s descendants.