Born in Islington in 1852, Ford was sent to study in Antwerp by his mother after showing a natural bent towards the arts. On his return to London he caught the publics attention at the Roayal Academy with a bust of his wife Anne Gwendoline.
He was soon to receive commissions for several large public works, his best known being the Shelley Memorial in University College, Oxford, and the memorial to Queen Victoria in Manchester. Despite his memorial works, Ford is perhaps best remembered for his busts, particularly those of John Everett Millais, Huxley, and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and his association to the “cult of the statuette”. The New Sculptors included Hamo Thornycroft, Harry Bates, Alfred Drury, Bertam Mackennal, George Frampton and, most importantly, Alfred Gilbert.
Ford worked in a neighbouring studio to Gilbert in The Avenue, Fulham Road. Together they worked in experiments with lost-wax casting, a technique on which both artists established their reputations.
In their casts the artists of the New Sculpture movement favoured realism over ideal beauty. Rather than rehashing prototypes from Classical Antiquity this group instead created new allegorical figure subjects that presented intangible ideas and sensations directly, concerning love, death or the eternal, and the struggle of the human spirit.