James Ward

Portrait of James Ward

James Ward was an English painter, printmaker and engraver. He began painting landscapes around 1790 after concerning himself before with mezzotints.  He then began to paint animals, particularly horses and animal scenes. He was born in London on 23rd October 1769 and died in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, Britain on 16th November 1859 aged 75.

Major Works

“The Liboya Serpent Seizing its Prey” (1803)
“The Reverend Thomas Levett and his Favourite Dogs, Cock-Shooting” (1811)
“Gordale Scar” (1814-5)
“The Waterloo Allegory” (1815-21)
“Theophilus Levett Hunting at Wychnor, Staffordshire” (1817)
“Self Portrait” (1830)

Biography Timeline

James Ward was born in 1769 in London. His father was a fruit merchant and his mother was Rachael Goldsmith. He was one of five children and was the younger brother of William Ward the engraver. He did not attend school. 

1781: He is apprenticed to an engraver at the age of twelve and he successfully uses mezzotints in his later career.

1790: He begins painting his own compositions and is greatly influenced by his brother-in-law, George Morland.

1794: He marries his first wife Mary Ann Ward (no relation).

1802: He publishes a mezzotint, after the artist John Hoppner, of Henry Thornton who is a leading member of the anti-slavery Clapham Sect. He also counts leading abolitionists among his friends and patrons.

1803: He sees “Chateau de Steen” by Peter Paul Rubens, which greatly influences his later style. He becomes known for his studies of the animal world in large scale paintings and is commissioned by many members of the merchant classes. He begins work painting as an allegorical statement on the trade of enslaved Africans. 

1804: “The Liboya Serpent Seizing its Prey”, which depicts a serpent wrapped around a Black African man on a white horse, is rejected by the Royal Academy for its Annual (Summer) Exhibition.

1810: He begins to specialise in painting horses in landscapes.

1811: He is elected to the Royal Academy as a full member. He now begins to work on landscape, religious and history paintings. He paints “The Reverend Thomas Levett and his Favourite Dogs, Cock-Shooting”. 

1814: His work “Gordale Scar”, completed in 1814 or 1815 depicting the place in Yorkshire is considered his masterpiece and a fine example of English Romantic painting.

1815: He begins work on the massive “The Waterloo Allegory” for the British Institution which is completed in around 1821 (now lost). This proved not to be as popular as he hoped. 

1817: He paints one of his best-known portraits “Theophilus Levett Hunting at Wychnor, Staffordshire”. 

1823: “The Deer Stealer” is commissioned for 500 guineas by his patron Theophilus Levett.

1827: He marries his second wife, Charlotte Fritche, who was said to be a relative of his deceased first wife.

1830: He moves to Cheshunt in Hertfordshire with his wife but continues to work on religious themes although he still submits animal pictures to the Royal Academy Annual (Summer) Exhibition. He paints his “Self Portrait”. 

1852: Due to ill health his work begins to decline in standard as do his earnings.

1855: He suffers a stroke which ends his career.

James Ward died in poverty in November 1859. He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.