Heywood Hardy was born in Chichester, 25th November 1843, the youngest son of the landscape painter James Hardy Snr. His was to become a well-known family of artists. James Hardy Jnr (1832-1889), a brother, was a renowned painter of animals and sporting genre, David, a second brother, was a painter of rustic genre and his cousin Frederick Daniel Hardy (1827-1911) a painter of genre and interior scene, was a leading member of the Cranbrook colony in Kent.
James Hardy Snr moved from London to Bristol in the 1850’s and it was here that Heywood Hardy, having studied with his father in London, embarked on his career as a painter and etcher of primarily sporting subjects, portraits, genre and animals. In 1864 Hardy travelled to Paris where he enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts following this with a period of study at the Academy in Antwerp, before returning to England.
Hardy’s early works included landscapes, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1864-65, he continued to exhibit at the Academy until 1919. It is, however, with his hunting and sporting subjects together with the 18th century costume works that his reputation rests. The portrayal of a hunt before a country inn, or an 18th century gentleman waving farewell to a young lady are subjects that have proved enduringly popular.
The 1870’s saw Hardy working in London, living in St. John’s Wood, it was a period during which he exhibited works of a more academic nature, biblical subjects, scenes taken from Greek mythology or literature, particularly at the Royal Academy. However, he continued to paint animals including exotic subjects, elephants and birds in addition to the earlier subjects for which he was renowned. Hardy was also a watercolourist and engraver, being elected to the Royal Society of Painters and Etchers and as an Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society. He was a member of the Royal West of England Academy and of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters; he exhibited a number of portraits of country gentlemen in the 1890’s.
In 1909 Hardy returned to Sussex, to East Preston and at the nearby church in Clymping, Hardy painted in his eighties, a series of panels depicting Christ in the Sussex countryside.
His work can be found in museums in: Bristol and London, Victoria and Albert Museum and other important collections throughout the world.