WARD, William after James WARD
Industrious Cottagers, Les habitants industrieuses de la Chaumiere
London: Published by Messrs. Wards & Co, 1 March 1801. Colour printed mezzotint with added hand colour. In good condition with the exception of being trimmed within the plate mark. Image size (including text): 17 1/2 x 23 1/4 inches. Sheet size: 18 7/8 x 23 5/8 inches.
A fine mezzotint, based on the picture of the same name sold at Christies in 1807 for 12 guineas.
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. "Industrious Cottagers" is an instance of art in the service of virtue, in this case the virtue of resourcefulness and hard work. The cottagers are engaged in making lace: one woman makes the thread on her spinning wheel while others make lace with their bobbins and pillows in the room in the back. Oddly enough, several years later, in 1806, the first lace-making machine was invented, and slowly but surely this form of rural self-sufficiency and "industry"was undercut by industrialisation.
C.R. Grundy James Ward p.72, no.83.