Conversation at John Ward's
Oil on canvas; signed and dated 53-54, signed again and inscribed with title, and artist's address '213 Brompton Road, Flat III, London, SW3' verso.
77 x 78 inches
In the Chelsea studio on Glebe Place, where John Ward had moved in 1950, Jehan Daly stands in the foreground wearing a colourful waistcoat, and John Ward is seated in the chair reading. William, John Ward's son, has suggested that the figure in the background on the telephone is Edwin la Dell, Tom Horrabin or Anthony Devas. William has also suggested that the painting on the easel was probably a Charles Mahoney, who taught John Ward at the RCA. The desk, sofa, easel and some of the paintings in the picture (but not the Mahoney), even the coffee pot, survive in the studio at Bilting where John Ward finally settled. Ward moved into Glebe Place just after he got married, before it was fashionable to live in Chelsea, and it seemed to be a gathering point for many of their friends from the RCA. Some very beautiful girls - models whom Ward had met illustrating for Vogue magazine - passed through and sat. The painter of this picture, Paul Wyeth, had been a fellow student of Ward's at the RCA.
Paul Wyeth, who was born and lived in London, attended the Willesden Schools of Art and the Royal College of Arts`, where he met Ward and Daly. He exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the RA, RSA, and the Paris Salon, and he painted murals for the York Assembly Rooms. In 1953, he was commissioned to paint Sir Winston Churchill’s portrait, upon his appointment to the Order of the Garter; that same year, Wyeth also painted John Ward and Jehan Daly. In the meantime, Wyeth taught at the Hammersmith School of Art, and had several books published, including How to Paint in Oils (1953) and How to Paint in Water-Colour (1958).