This painting depicts blooming Japanese flora in what appears to be a body of water; however, most of the canvas is negative space, a technique that allows for a higher contrast in colors of Ward’s vegetation. It also is perhaps intended to allow viewers to contemplate life and its meaning, for the flowers and waterlilies surrounding the base of the vegetation—their branches and petals—are flourishing.
About the Artist: Ward was born, in Paris, to a family of artists. His father Edgar Melville was a noted genre painter who directed the National Academy of Design for twenty years; his uncle John Quincy Adams Ward was even more famous for his public sculptures. The younger painter studied with Edward William Carlson, Francis Coates Jones, and—perhaps most influential—the muralist George W. Maynard. He lived much of his life in Ulster County. As of the mid-1930s Ward, in addition to painting, was a designer and a muralist in his own right (Kingston Daily Freeman 30 July 1936: 7). His “Under Sea Life” was at the Jones Beach Pavillion, and he created several for Wells College, Aurora NY.
Griffin, Michael (biography)