Monday, July 19, 2010

James Ward - The Runaway Wagon

signed and inscribed ‘I.WARD.x/Paddington’ (on the wagon)
oil on canvas
61 x 76.2 cm (24 x 30 in)

Ward had a lengthy and prolific career establishing himself as one of the most talented painters of animals, portraits and landscapes in Regency England. He frequently exhibited at the British Institution and the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Ward was instructed in the art of engraving by his brother William Ward and John Raphael Smith and developed a successful career as a mezzotinter before turning to oil painting around 1790. Traditionally, the first phase of Ward’s painting career is thought to have lasted until c. 1803 and consisted mostly of genre scenes, influenced by the work of his brother-in-law, George Morland. Post 1803, a shift in Ward’s style can be detected when his compositions began to emulate Rubens.

Shortly before 1810, Ward began painting characteristically proud and noble portraits of thoroughbreds and blood horses posed in expansive landscapes. He gained particular recognition for these works, leading the Sporting Magazine to describe him as ‘the first of English animal painters now living’1. Following this success, Ward was elected to the R.A. in 1811. In the next decade, Ward completed a number of major paintings depicting landscapes and livestock. He devoted most of the years from 1815 to 1821 to executing the Waterloo Allegory, a composition of enormous size commissioned by the British Institution. The work, now lost, was critically and financially unsuccessful and its negative reception may have added to Ward’s increasing disillusionment with the art world. He retired to a cottage in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, in 1830, although he continued to exhibit in London. His paintings of this latter period, although ostensibly still animal portraits, often have a religious subtext or incorporate moral messages and commentary on the human condition. Ward continued to paint until 1855 when he suffered from a stroke.


Dolls from the Attic said...

Very realistic, I can sense the horses' panic at the oncoming storm.
I love these type of paintings of nature and weather.
thank you!

Hermes said...

That sky! No wonder the poor horse was frightened.