Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ashford, William

ASHFORD, WILLIAM (1746?–1824), landscape painter, was born at Birmingham. In 1764 he went to Ireland and settled in Dublin. At first he held a situation under Mr. Ward in the ordnance department of that city. He abandoned it, however, for art. He contributed to the early exhibitions of the Incorporated Society of Artists in London, and in 1783 and 1790 to the Royal Academy. At this time he lived in London, and, in conjunction with Dominic Serres, R.A., made a public exhibition of his works. The Royal Hibernian Academy was incorporated in 1823, and Ashford was its first president. His work was at one time highly esteemed, but he died neglected. His early pictures, many of which were ably engraved by Thomas Milton, preserve the manner of Claude. In the committee-room of the Dublin Society there is a fine example of his style; another, 'Orlando under the Oak,' is in the Hibernian Gallery, and there are five in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. Anthony Pasquin, writing 1794, remarks on his work: 'He amused himself in his leisure hours with studying drawing and painting, which he succeeded in so far as to justify his becoming a professor. This gentleman is more happy in his trees and his foregrounds than his figures and skies, the former of which are too inaccurate, and the latter have too green a hue.' In later life he retired to Sandymont, near Dublin, where he died 17 April 1824, aged 78.

[Nagler's Künstler-Lexicon, ed. 1872; Redgrave, Dictionary of Artists of Eng. School; Cooper, New Biog. Dict., 1873; Pasquin, An Authentic History of the Professors of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, who have practised in Ireland, p. 40; Taylor, Origin and Progress of the Fine Arts in Great Britain and Ireland; Lavice, Revue des Musées d'Angleterre, p. 154.]

E. R.