Heywood Hardy: Artist of “The Hunt”

by William A. Gage, Department Head

Although British artist Heywood Hardy’s (1842-1933) body of work includes portraits and animals, he is best known for his handsome and highly sought after paintings of fox hunting scenes. Fox hunting with hounds has its origins in 16th century Europe and remains an important tradition in rural England. Hardy’s detailed works depict the full spectrum of hunt activities, with the larger and more complex ones including the preparation, pursuit, and closure of the hunt.

Hardy was born in Chichester, England to a family of painters. He launched his professional artistic career at the age of 17 in 1859, painting pictures of animals. He found early success and was able to support himself through this work. In 1864, he moved to Paris to be closer to the blossoming European painting community and to attend art school. Four years later, he returned to England where he was well received and his paintings were very much in demand.

With his continued success, he moved his family to St. John’s Wood, a district in northwest London where many other artists lived and worked at the time. Today, this area is one of the most affluent areas in the city. During the height of his career, he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Painters and Etchers, The Royal Society of Portrait Painters, and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. His illustrations also reached a broader audience thorough the popular press. These included commissions done for the Illustrated London News, the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine. In 1909 Hardy moved to West Sussex and continued to paint until his death in 1933.

James D. Julia is pleased to present two fine examples of Heywood Hardy’s best work in their upcoming Annual Summer Fine Art, Asian & Antiques Auction to be held on August 16th, 17th & 18th, 2017. They include The First of November and Preparing for the Hunt. Both depict traditional English foxhunting in all of its Victorian splendor. Preparing for the Hunt was previously in the Woolworth collection (F.W. Woolworth family of Monmouth, Maine) which Julia’s sold over a few years through several outstanding auctions.