John Stanton Ward was born in Hereford in 1917 where he attended junior classes at the Hereford School of Art, becoming a full-time student at the age of 15. In 1936, he continued his studies at the Royal College of Art. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Engineers and when he was demobilised in 1946 he returned to the Royal College of Art to complete his studies. He left with a travelling scholarship, and the following year he acquired work illustrating county guides to Herefordshire and Yorkshire. In 1948 he was commissioned to draw illustrations for Vogue although he resigned four years later and moved to Folkestone to focus on his art. In 1953 he exhibited in Wildenstein’s London Gallery, the following year he was elected to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and he became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1956. He also joined the Royal Watercolour Society and the New English Art Club. He had several solo exhibitions at the Trafford Gallery throughout the 1950s, later exhibiting at the Mass gallery in Clifford St and Agnew’s, which gave him a retrospective in 1990.
In 1957 Ward settled in Bilting Court near Ashford in Kent where he was to remain for the rest of his life. Exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy, he became a Royal Academician in 1966 and was a trustee from 1976 to 1987, finally resigning in 1997. In his later years, he exhibited regularly with Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox in St James’s. He was appointed CBE in 1985 and received an honorary DLitt from the University of Kent.
Ward was a portrait artist, landscape painter and illustrator, drawing illustrations for several books and companies as well as county guides. As a pre-eminent figure painter, he has produced many portraits of royalty, cabinet ministers, city businessmen and celebrities, fifteen of which are now in the National Portrait Gallery.