WARD, William after James WARD
London: Published by William Ward, 1 January 1796. Mezzotint. In good condition with the exception of being trimmed within the platemark on the upper and side margins. Image size (including text): 17 3/4 x 23 7/8 inches. Sheet size: 19 1/8 x 24 inches.
An exemplary mezzotint illustrating an aspect of the rural life in England by William Ward after a painting by his brother, James Ward.
The woman who is thinking about buying the rabbit in the farmer's hand, holds a finger to the rabbit's stomach while looking the farmer in the eye. She wants this particular rabbit, and this is the point of the image: the personal interaction. The transaction takes place in the farmer's barn among his children, his skinny dog and his rabbits, living and dead. It's awkward, human and real. James Ward was one of the most noted artists of his day, his individual style and superior skill distinguished him from his contemporaries, and his outstanding work influenced the development of British art. Considered to be one of the most important animal painters of his generation, Ward also produced portraits, landscapes, genre and history paintings. He began his career as an engraver, studying under his brother William, who later went on to engrave many of his paintings. The images produced from the pairing of William and James Ward epitomize the best of English art, their fine technical skill and inspired artistic imagination combine to create enduring pictures that speak of the taste and beauty of the age. The work of James Ward is worthy of history's praise; it influenced the art of Delacroix and Géricault, and changed the face of British painting. This magnificent work is reminiscent of the genre paintings of George Morland who greatly influenced the work of James and William.
C.R. Grundy James Ward p.72, no.108; Beckett, The Life and Work of James Ward p. 211.