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"People should look at paintings without inhibitions. They should learn to trust their judgment. If they are touched, if something comes across to them and they like it, they should not be afraid to say so. There is nothing mysterious about art."
-Charles W. Ward
Born on January 24, 1900, in Trenton, New Jersey, Charles William Ward was interested in drawing as a child. At age fourteen, he took a job in a watch factory, and in 1916 began art instruction with Henry R. MacGinnis at Trenton's School of Industrial Arts, at first in evening classes. He worked as a machinist from 1917 to 1924 and then became a full-time student at the School of Industrial Arts. In 1926 Ward enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, where he studied painting and sculpture. He received the academy's William Emlen Cresson Traveling Scholarship for study in Europe in 1930, and in 1932 he settled in Carversville, Bucks County.
His paintings of the Delaware River landscape were exhibited locally at the Pennsylvania Academy, and in New York at the National Academy of Design and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Ward also painted portraits and murals, and he made several trips to Mexico, including a four-month stay in 1939. In 1942, he married Anna Elizabeth Karlberg. Ward accepted teaching positions at the Trenton School of Industrial Arts and at Trenton Junior College in the same year (1946). Charles Ward made history in 1935 when his painting, Progress and Industry, was the first New Deal post office mural installed in the country. That program was a natural fit for Ward who once described his art, including modernist landscapes, insightful figurative works, and scenes of laborers both in Bucks County and in Mexico as "paintings for people." Despite the acclaim for his murals, Ward spent his career on more personal subjects in his Carversville, Pennsylvania studio. He died in Philadelphia on December 7, 1962, after thirty years' residence in Bucks County. A retrospective exhibition and catalogue, Charles W. Ward: Paintings for People, 2009, organized by the Michener Art Museum, explored for the first time the full range of Ward's work.
Charles Ward. Photograph by Jack Rosen,1957. Courtesy of the James A. Michener Art Museum.
Education and Training
Mechanical Drawing Classes, School of Industrial Arts, Trenton, New Jersey, 1916
Day Fine Arts Course, (School of Industrial Arts) Trenton, New Jersey, 1924-1926
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1926-1931
Cresson Traveling Scholarship, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1930 for study in Europe; England, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland
Travel to Mexico, 1939, 1954
Teachers and Influences
Mexican artists and muralist, Diego Rivera
Connection to Bucks County
Charles Ward lived in Carversville from 1933 until his death in 1962. He exhibited at Phillips' Mill Annual Art Exhibitions for many years and painted two murals in the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope. He exhibited locally in Yardley, Pennington, and Trenton, New Jersey. He often painted scenes and the people of Carversville and its surroundings. He maintained a studio in Carversville for 30 years.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Ward was a student of Daniel Garber. He exhibited with The Independents (New Hope), alongside R.A.D. Miller, Charles Evans, C.F. Ramsey, Henry Baker, Ralston Crawford, and Faye Swengel Badura. He was also a friend of painters John F. Folinsbee and Charles Child.
Ward's daughter, Kristina Maria, was a musician, while his other daughter, Mary Ellen, was a visual artist. Ward was also associated with student Neil R. Stull.
He was a member of the New Hope Art Associates, the Bucks County Playhouse, and the Phillips' Mill Community Association.
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Art Instructor, School of Industrial Arts, Trenton, New Jersey, 1946-1948, 1959-1962
Art Instructor, Trenton Junior College, 1946-1948, 1959-1962
Fellow, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Affiliations and Memberships
Trenton-Morrisville Art Group
Phillips' Mill Community Association
New Hope Art Associates
Major Solo Exhibitions
Croyne & Lowndes Gallery, (first one-man show), New York, New York, 1934-1935
Ferargil Galleries, New York, New York
W. & J. Sloane, Beverly Hills, California
Lambertville House, Lambertville, New Jersey, 1957
Retrospective, Bucks County Center for the Arts, Rodman House, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1979
Scofield Gallery, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Art for Everyone: Murals and Paintings by Charles W. Ward, Trenton, NJ, 2007
Charles W. Ward: Paintings for People, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2009
Major Group Exhibitions
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1933, 1936, 1940, 1941
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia 1933, 1936, 1940, 1941
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
Coming Home: Impressionism and Modernism in the New Hope Arts Community, Michener Art Museum, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 2003
An Evolving Legacy: Twenty Years of Collecting at the Michener Art Museum, Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2009-2010
Cresson European Traveling Scholarship, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1930
Lee Award for Drawing, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Charles W. Ward's New Deal Murals
Progress of Industry, 1934. Oil on canvas. H. 7 x W. 12 feet. Installed in 1935 in Trenton, New Jersey, Post Office, Fine Arts Collection, Public Building Services, General Services Administration.
Rural Delivery, 1936. Oil on canvas. H. 6 x W. 20 feet. Installed in 1937 in Trenton, New Jersey, Post Office, Fine Arts Collection, Public Building Services, General Services Administration.
Second Battle of Trenton, 1936. Oil on canvas. H. 6 x W. 20 feet. Installed in 1937 in Trenton, New Jersey, Post Office, Fine Arts Collection, Public Building Services, General Services Administration.
Cotton Pickers, 1938. Oil on canvas. H. 64 x W. 143 inches. Installed in 1938 in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, Post Office, Private Collection.
(See Catalogue, Charles W. Ward: Paintings for People, by David Leopold, James A. Michener Art Museum, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 2009 for images of the murals)