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Oil painting - Bulls Fighting, with a View of Donatt's Castle, Glamorganshire
  • Bulls Fighting, with a View of Donatt's Castle, Glamorganshire
    Ward, James, born 1769 - died 1859
  • Enlarge image

Bulls Fighting, with a View of Donatt's Castle, Glamorganshire

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    1803 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ward, James, born 1769 - died 1859 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Charles T. Maud

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 87, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case NORTH WALL

James Ward specialised in animal paintings. He based this work on a landscape by Rubens. The President of the Royal Academy considered that its 'perfection of execution' made Rubens seem 'gross and vulgar'. Constable, however, saw it as proof that a 'production made upon a picture' is inferior to one 'founded on original observation'.

Physical description

Signed "J Ward" on the back.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (painted)


1803 (made)


Ward, James, born 1769 - died 1859 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on panel

Marks and inscriptions

'J Ward'
Signed by the artist on the back


Height: 132 cm estimate, Width: 228 cm estimate

Object history note

Given by Charles T. Maud, 1871
Taken from 'Somersetshire parishes; a handbook of historical reference to all places in the county'.
Charles Theobald Maud of the Manor House, farmer, horse-breeder, and collector of pictures. Left Harrow 1808-9. Bal. Col. Oxf. BA 1818.'

Maud was also the cousin of W J Broderip, the eminent naturalist, who owned William Holman Hunt's 'The Hireling Shepherd' (City of Manchester Art Galleries). Maud originally commissioned a replica of the sheep in the background of this work, but Hunt persuaded him to commission a new piece, 'Our English Coasts (Strayed Sheep)' (Tate Britain).

Exhibited at the British Institution, 1817, no.12 'Bulls Fighting' (5ft 6" x 8ft 9").

Historical context note

In addition to being a prolific engraver, James Ward was regarded as the most important animal painter of his generation in England. His work is characterised by great animation, the sense of movement enforced by vigorous brushwork and strong colours; his compositions are generally set in sweeping landscapes with dramatic skies, a style influenced by Romanticism.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Bulls Fighting, with a View of Donatt's Castle, Glamorganshire', James Ward, 1803

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum.London: V&A, 1985, p.100
Grundy, C. R. James Ward, R.A., His Life and Works, London, 1909, pp.32-33
English art in Public Galleries, vol. I, 1888, p.67
Art Journal, London, 1862, p.170
Dayot, A., La Peinture Anglaise, paris, 1908, p.138
Edward Nygren, James Ward, RA (1769-1859): Papers and Patrons, Walpole Society 2013 (vol. 75), cat. 44, pp.264-5
Rubens and his legacy London : Royal Academy of Arts, 2014. ISBN: 9781907533778
pp. 52-5

Labels and date

"Label" from Elise load - author unknown
"The bulls in this painting are inspired by a work by George Stubbs. Ward has changed the classical calm of Stubb's composition into the fulcrum for a romantic synthesis of moods - a struggle which mirrors the threat of a coming storm, and the high winds which have uprooted the massive tree, the central element of the design. All these factors give the picture an emotive Wordsworthian identification with the wilder aspects of nature." []


Oil paint; Panel


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Landscape; Castle; Bull (animal)




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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