James Ward

Portrait of a terrier in a mountainous landscape

Oil on canvas: 28(h) x 36(w) in /

71.1(h) x 91.4(w) cm

Signed and dated lower left: JW RA / 1817

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BJ 179

 

JAMES WARD RA

London 1769 – 1859 Cheshunt, Herts

 

Portrait of a terrier in a mountainous landscape

 

Signed and dated lower left: JW RA / 1817

Oil on canvas: 28 x 36 in / 71.1 x 91.4 cm

Frame size: 35 x 43 in / 88.9 x 109.2 cm

 

Provenance:

Private collection, UK

 

 

James Ward was elected a Royal Academician in February 1811 and proudly signed this painting JW RA. Ward trained as an engraver but turned to oil painting in the 1790s, influenced by the sporting and genre works of his rackety brother-in-law George Morland. This painting of a terrier is a real portrait of a beloved sporting companion, no longer very youthful but full of fire and intelligence. Ward followed in the tradition of George Stubbs, developing the genre of Romantic animal painting in which the creatures are given dignity and personality. The dog is set against a mountainous landscape with swirling clouds, echoing the panoramic landscapes of Rubens which Ward had copied in his years as a mezzotinter.

 

 


JAMES WARD

London 1769 – 1859 Cheshunt, Herts

 

 

James Ward was the most important animal painter of his generation, but also executed fine portraits, landscapes and genre pieces. Born in London in 1769, he was trained as an engraver by his brother William Ward and by John Raphael Smith. Until circa 1790 Ward worked as a mezzotinter, engraving outstanding works after Rubens, Rembrandt, Beechey, Hoppner and Lawrence. After that date he worked in oil, at first greatly influenced by the sporting and genre paintings of his brother-in-law George Morland.

 

In 1803 Ward painted Bulls fighting, with a view of St Donat’s Castle in the background (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), a Romantic landscape influenced by Rubens’s Autumn landscape with a view of Het Steen (National Gallery, London), which had just been acquired by Sir George Beaumont. In 1807 Ward became an Associate of the Royal Academy; he was elected RA in 1811. Around 1809 he began to paint horse portraits, which are remarkable for their emphasis on the noble physique and personality of the animals and for setting them in panoramic, Romantic landscapes. Ward’s portraits of Napoleon’s charger Marengo and the Duke of Wellington’s charger Copenhagen (both 1824; Alnwick Castle, Northumberland) sum up the great conflict of Ward’s generation through the medium of animal portraits.

 

Circa 1812-14 Ward painted his masterpiece, Gordale Scar (Tate Gallery, London). It shows a white bull at the foot of the great Yorkshire limestone gorge on a thundery day and epitomises the Sublime taste in landscape painting. From 1815-21 Ward worked on his Waterloo Allegory (now lost) for the British Institution; this was not a critical or financial success. In the 1830s and 40s his animal and sporting paintings often have moralising themes; he also wrote theological tracts and poetry. He died at Cheshunt, Herts in 1859.

 

 

 

 

 

SportingJames Ward