John Ward was a painter and draughtsman of exceptional quality. While best known for his portraits, he was a prolific and wide-ranging artist, who produced a significant body of illustrative work.
He was born in Hereford on 10 October 1917, the youngest of seven children of an antique dealer and picture restorer. His father died when he was ten years old, and money was then short, with his two elder sisters providing the family income. At the age of fifteen, he left St Owen’s School to study at Hereford School of Art (1933-36), and then in London at the Royal College of Art (1936-39; 1946-47). There he studied under Gilbert Spencer, Barnett Freedman, Percy Horton, Charles Mahoney and Alan Sorrell, and won a drawing prize.