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Daniel Ward

Wollaston, John
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
oil on canvas
HOA: 42″; WOA: 32″
Accession Number:
SITTER: Daniel Ward (1761-1812) was the son of master tailor John Ward (d. 1791) and his wife, Anne Hunley Ward (d. 1769), of Charleston. The quality of Daniel’s clothing is indicative of his father’s success at his trade. A family tradition, probably apocryphal, says that the lace on the shirt in the portrait was made by his mother, who learned this art from the nuns on the island of Majorca, where she and her family spent a year of more after being taken there when their ship was captured near Gibraltar by the Barbary Pirates, while on their way to America. (They finally got a ship and were able to complete their journey).

Daniel inherited land and slaves from his father, became a rice planter, and resided at Windsor Forest Plantation on the Wando River in Christ Church Parish. In 1795 he owned over 4200 acres and 49 slaves. From 1791 to 1797 he represented Christ Church Parish in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

In 1787 Daniel married Susannah Swinton (1774-1850), the daughter of Hugh and Susannah Splatt Swinton of Charleston. The Wards had nine children and are buried at the Circular Congregationalist Church on Meeting Street.

ARTIST: John Wollaston (active 1733-1767) was an English artist who worked in the American Colonies in the decades preceding the American Revolution. His father, also John Wollaston (d.1749), was also a portrait painter. In addition to presumably studying with his father, Wollaston also received training from Joseph van Aken (d.1749), a painter who specialized in the depiction of fabrics in the paintings of others, include Allan Ramsay (1713-1784). Wollaston’s earliest documented painting is of the evangelist George Whitfield (1714-1770) painted in London about 1742 and in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG UK 131).

In 1749 Wollaston crossed the Atlantic and landed in New York where he began painting portraits in the fashionable London style. In 1752 he left New York for Philadelphia, and the following year he set up his easel in Annapolis. He spent about two years in Maryland and another two years in Virginia, completing about one hundred and twenty portraits. By the end of the decade he had returned to Philadelphia.

Wollaston arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1765, probably after a period painting in the Caribbean Colonies. Painting in Charleston had been dominated to that point by the work of Jeremiah Theus (1716-1774); Wollaston’s arrival breathed new life into the city’s portraiture.

Wollaston was prolific, completing upwards of two hundred portraits during his time in the Colonies. His work influenced a generation of American artists, including John Hesselius (1728-1778) and Benjamin West (1738-1820).

RELATED WORKS: The MESDA collection is home to five works by John Wollaston: Portraits and portrait miniatures of John Beale and his wife Mary (Ross) Beale (MESDA acc. 3049, 3050, 3809.1-2); and a portrait of Daniel Ward (3351).

REFERENCES: “John Wollaston” in the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalog

Carolyn J. Weekley, “Painters and Paintings in the Early American South” (Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Yale University Press, 2013)

DESCRIPTION: Painting, oil on canvas, of a child, showing a boy facing full, with right arm and hand pointing outward and left hand on the head of a black dog; dressed in blue coat, brown breeches, white shirt, cuffs, collar and stockings and black tie and shoes mounted with buckles, his hat on the ground at his feet.

During the period before the Civil War, the painting was the property of the McGillivray family of Charleston, direct descendants of Daniel Ward. When Charleston was threatened with occupation by Union Troops, the family refuged to Laurens, S.C. When they returned after the war the painting was missing. According to family lore their son found it covered with newspapers in a former slave quarter used as a firescreen.
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Douglas