"His deftly constructed compositions, offering a broad, generous sense of the open landscape, celebrate the grandeur of a nature in which humankind is present but does not dominate." - René Villeneuve, catalogue Lord Dalhousie Patron and Collector, 2008
John Elliott Woolford, was a landscape painter and architect. His most fruitful career as an artist was the years he spent in Canada under Lord Dalhousie. In his work he celebrated the picturesque nature of the Canadian landscape.
There is evidence that he had some training in painting and architectural rendering before he entered the army at the age of 19, because his ability as an artist came to the attention of his commanding officer, the 9th earl of Dalhousie.
When the regiment took part in the British Expedition to Egypt in 1800, Lord Dalhousie commissioned Woolford to make a pictorial record of the campaign. The Egyptian Album, marked Woolford's entry into the artistic sphere.
Woolford left the army in 1803 and went to Edinburgh, and for the next ten years, he "followed the profession of a Landscape Painter". In 1816, he came to Canada as an official draughtsman at the request of Lord Dalhousie.
Woolford accompanied Dalhousie on his official travels, providing an extensive record of topographical views of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and later of Québec and Ontario when Lord Dalhousie became Governor General of Canada in 1820. Woolford's landscapes celebrated the grandness of the Canadian nature in which man is present but does not dominate.
Woolford did not limit himself to sketches, washes and watercolours but also began to make engravings and later on in life he practiced architecture.