James Hardy Junior was born into a large and well-known family of artists. He was the son of the landscapist, James Hardy Senior. His two brothers, David and Heywood Hardy, were also painters. His cousin Daniel Frederick Hardy was a leading member of the Cranbrook Colony of artists.
Hardy Junior was a painter primarily of rustic landscapes and hunting scenes. He specialised in sporting scenes depicting dogs and game, often set in Highland scenery with titles such as On the Moors, Setters and Scotch Game and Keeping Guard.
For much of his life, Hardy lived in Bristol, but he exhibited at many of the principal London venues. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1862-86, the British Institution from 1862-1866 and at the Suffolk Street Galleries from 1853-1871. He was also a talented watercolourist and exhibited many works at the New Watercolour Society, of which he became a member in 1877.