Ford, William (1823-84; English/Australian)
Life and Death of a Rose
Oil on canvas, c.30.5 x 45.75 cm
Presented by the Victorian Academy of Arts 1883; deaccessioned 1940s            
Unidentified; present location unknown

The 1894 NGV catalogue lists this work as in the McArthur Gallery, and describes the artist as an English enamel-painter. Ford was active in London from 1846 to 1858, and then in Australia from 1871.

Downer & Phipps (1985), commenting on Ford’s At the Hanging Rock (acquired for the NGV in 1950), indicate that Life and Death of a Rose was “presented to the Gallery by the Academy after Ford went blind in 1883,” adding that it was de-accessioned later.

Most of the works by Ford listed in Australian auction records are landscapes dating from the 1870s, but a still life of lilies, signed and dated 1869, was sold by Leonard Joel in 1986 (see photo below).

[comparative photo: Lilium Auratum 1869 (auctioned in 1986)]


AR 1883, p.34; NGV 1894, p.71 (IV.McArthur Gallery, no.1; giving size as 12 x 18 inches); not listed in NGV 1905 

For this work, see Downer & Phipps Victorian Vision (1985), p.43, commenting on Ford’s Australian career. For At the Hanging Rock, see; Lane, 19C Australian Art (2003), p.67; and Downer & Phipps (as cited above),, including press criticism of it when it was shown at the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne in 1875

Ford’s biographical dates vary: the NGV’s catalogue gives them as shown above, but AKL 42 (2004), pp.289-30 (entry by R.Smith) indicates c.1820-84 or later; Bénézit 5, p.878, mentions his earlier career as an enamel painter in London. For paintings by Ford auctioned in Australia (including the work reproduced above, sold by Leonard Joel, Melbourne, 5 Nov.1986, for $15,000), see Australian Art Sales Digest (available online)