Born in Hereford, John Stanton Ward studied at the Royal College of Art, London before war service with the Royal Engineers spent designing and building pill boxes along the Kent coast. After the war he worked as an illustrator, working for vogue from 1948 to 1952, and for various publications, most notably for Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie when it was first published in 1959. He built a highly successful career as a society portraitist depicting the great and the good including a group of portraits for the Society of Dilettanti, Annabel's club, and a collection of cabinet secretaries. He became an unofficial court painter ; Princess Anne, the Princess Royal and the Duchess of Gloucester both sat for him and Diana, Princess of Wales, sat for him in her wedding dress. He also painted the christenings of Princes William and Harry, made drawings of Balmoral for HM the Queen and gave sketching lessons to Prince Charles.
A life-long believer in the importance of draughtsmanship in painting, he was one of four artists who resigned from the Royal Academy on account of the ‘Sensation’ exhibition of young British artists in 1997.