WARD, William after James WARD
London: Published by William Ward, 1 January, 1793. Colour printed mezzotint with additional hand-colouring. In good condition with the exception of some small skillfully mended tears in the margins. Image size (including text): 18 x 23 5/8 inches. Sheet size: 19 1/2 x 24 1/2 inches.
An early Romantic view of rural life in England after a painting by 18th and 19th century master, James Ward.
William Ward (1766-1826) colour mezzotint rendition of his brother James' painting, "Haymakers at Rest" is a superb example of the late 18th century, British genre print, which frequently depicted the lives of "ordinary" rural folk. The subjects in these images tend to be generic types, rather than individuals, and the activities frequently commonplace. There is no moral and barely a story: after having worked hard in the hot sun, the workers relax in the shade, so stunned by their fatigue they hardly speak or interact. The purpose and justification of the image is that it is a picture of "us", of life in the common, (for them) British identity, and the great human commonality we all share. 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.
Grundy James Ward p.71, no.59; Beckett, The Life and Work of James Ward p. 11, 22.