The sale of two major pictures at Christie's in 1989 brought overdue recognition for this artist, with one, The Puckeridge Foxhounds selling for £209,000. Best known as a sporting painter, Woodward was a versatile artist whose subjects included portraits, battle scenes, landscapes, genre, country scenes and animal studies. He was born in Pershore, Worcestershire, and at the age of eight his artistic talent is said to have caught the eye of Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy, 'who spoke in high terms of the promise held out in his juvenile efforts'. Having studied for a year under Abraham Cooper, he first exhibited in 1821 at the Royal Academy, whose walls were to be hung with a total of eighty-five of his works over the next thirty years. Surveying different examples of Woodward's work, it is possible to discern the influence of several of the leading early 19th Century British sporting artists. Certainly the touch of Herring is there and, in others, Basil Taylor sensed 'the spirit of Morland or Ward'. Woodward is believed to have been a close friend of Sir Edwin Landseer and - even if that master's supposed remark that he 'wished he could paint a horse like Woodward' is anecdotal - there are clear affinities between the two artists' understanding and portrayal of their subjects.
In his lifetime, purchasers of Woodward's work included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Dukes of Newcastle and Montrose, Sir Robert Peel and the great collector William Wells of Redleaf. Institutions which hold examples of this work include Tate Britain and the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven.
Initialled & dated 1849 28 x36in