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John Ward RA, The Twins and Jack in the Studio

The Twins and Jack in the Studio, ca. 1964

John Ward RA (1917 - 2007)

RA Collection: Art

In this painting, the artist offers a glimpse into his studio. The room is peppered with eclectic objects and artistic materials, while three of the artist’s young children jostle for their father’s attention. The canvas on the right edge reveals that Ward is mid-way through a portrait of one of the girls, interrupted by his other children who cannot resist seeing their father at work. As adults, two of the artist’s six children themselves pursued careers as artists, implying that this early exposure to the life of a painter through their father was to have a profound impact on the course of their lives.

The half-finished painting of his daughter alludes to Ward’s successful career as a portraitist. He painted notable public figures across all areas of society, including film stars, athletes and royalty. In fact, the careful positioning of his sitters and objects reveals a thoughtful composition that belies the apparent chaos of the room. While appearing like a momentary glimpse of the artist’s studio, Ward has carefully formed this interior to act as a cross-section of his life: chaotic yet attractive, the image of the inspired artist at work.

The miscellany of objects in Ward’s studio indicate his fondness for the unusual objects, trinkets and knickknacks that he amassed in his Kent home. The apparently random items – china figurines, musical instruments, a painted screen – reflect Ward’s wide-ranging interests. In addition to portraiture, Ward’s spent time working for the fashion magazine Vogue and illustrating county guides and books including Laurie Lee’s Cider With Rosie (1959). He travelled widely, and many of the props in this painting were collected on journeys to European countries, notably Italy. By presenting this view of his studio, Ward shows how he desired to be perceived – a family man, an important portraitist and a collector of curiosities.

Object details

Title
The Twins and Jack in the Studio
Artist/designer
John Ward RA (1917 - 2007)
Date
ca. 1964
Object type
Painting
Copyright owner
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions

765 mm x 1015 mm x 24 mm

Collection
Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
03/618
Acquisition
Diploma Work given by John Ward RA accepted 1965
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