Georgian Society for East Yorkshire

John Ward, Maritime Artist

Stoneferry, by John Ward

Stoneferry, by John Ward

One of the a number of well-known artists to come from our region, John Ward was born in Hull in 1798. His father, Abraham Ward, was a master mariner and painter. John was educated, and became an apprentice house painter. He was listed as a house and ship painter in his own right by 1826, when he was listed in Hull's local directory.

By 1827 Ward was exhibiting works of art, first at the Hull and East Riding Institute for the Promotion of the Fine Arts. These were copies of works by Scottish Marine artist William Anderson, with whom Ward was friends. After this, Ward abandoned the practice of copying and began to paint his own subjects.

His original works specialised in maritime and shipping scenes. Earlier examples were small watercolours, which concentrated more on accuracy of detail than pictorial value. His intricate knowledge of ship construction allowed him to create paintings highly satisfactory to the ship owners who probably commissioned them.

In later works, he was able to improve his techniques of composition and to represent ships in all atmospheres, lighting conditions and weathers; his work continued to improve throughout his life.

Ward died in 1849, and remained relatively unknown. It was only after thirty years that his reputation was revived, with the local press giving a brief account of his career. Today he is more highly regarded. Examples of his paintings reside at the Ferens Art Gallery and Maritime Museum in Hull, and as far afield as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

In this section