Born in London and self-taught, Arthur Wardle was one of the best-known British animal painters in the 20th century. He portrayed an astonishing diversity of subjects with an engaging naturalism, and a command of different media. Unlike most British animal and sporting artists who restricted themselves to horse and hound, deer and domesticated beasts, Wardle both drew and painted every mammal from elephant to mouse, in watercolour, pastel and oils.
Wardle's reputation may have been made with his large mythological paintings, but his most individual work was in pastel, which underwent a revival in Britain in the 1890s. Inspired by French art, many leading British artists had experimented successfully with pastel, leading to the foundation of the Pastel Society, of which Wardle was elected a member in 1911.
His paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists at Suffolk Street. Many of his paintings were reproduced on cigarette packages, postcards, calendars and boxes of chocolates.