The animal painter and engraver, James Ward was the younger brother of William Ward, A.R.A., and the brother-in-law of George Morland. He was apprenticed first to John Raphael Smith and then to his brother. His early paintings, both in oil and watercolour, are very much in the manner of Morland. Later he wasted much time and temper on huge allegorical pictures. He was elected A.R.A. and R.A. in 1807 and 1811. His watercolours are often the by-products of his many commissions to paint portraits of cattle and other animals. However, these studies, and those of birds and more exotic creatures done for his own instruction, are among the most lifelike and impressive of all British watercolours of animals. His landscapes, for which he sometimes modeled his style on that of Rubens, are also full of observation, and they are sometimes surprisingly modern in feeling. In this context it should be noted that in one or two of his pictures he anticipates the discoveries of the camera as to the correct movement of horses. He worked in many parts of Britain and was an inveterate sketcher. He often singed with a monogram made up of ‘J. Ward R.A.’.
Examples: British Museum, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead; Cartwright Hall, Bradford; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal; Leeds City Art Gallery; Maidstone Museum; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.
Bibliography: J. Frankau: William Ward and James Ward, 1904. C.R. Grundy: James Ward, His Life and Works, 1909. G.E. Fussell: James Ward, 1974. Art Journal, 1849; 1860; 1862; 1897. Connoisseur, Extra no., 1909. Country Life, January 4, 1936. Apollo, LX, 1954. British Racehorse, XIV, 1958. Arte Figuritiva, VIII, ii, 1960.
from H.L. Mallalieu, The Dictionary of British Watercolours Artists up to 1920, Baron Publishing, Suffolk, 1976