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Title: George Morland - Sixteen examples in colour of the artist's work
Author: Cuming, Edward D.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "George Morland - Sixteen examples in colour of the artist's work" ***

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  [Illustration: The Dipping-Well (Cover Page)]





                     64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

                     205 FLINDERS LANE, MELBOURNE

                     ST. MARTIN'S HOUSE, 70 BOND STREET, TORONTO

                     MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                     309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA

  [Illustration: Confidences]







                                                       OWNER OF ORIGINAL

  1. Confidences                                       _Mrs. Carl Meyer_

  2. Idleness                                _Sir Edward Tennant, Bart._

  3. Diligence                                             "

  4. Belinda, Billet-Doux                          _T. J. Barratt, Esq._

  5. The Effects of Youthful Extravagance
  and Idleness                                _Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart._

  [A]6. The Dipping-Well                                   "

  7. The Deserter's Farewell                               "

  8. The Deserter Pardoned                          _Barnet Lewis, Esq._

  9. The Fox Inn                              _Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart._

  10. Gathering Sticks                                     "

  11. Morning; or, The Benevolent Sportsman           _J. Beecham, Esq._

  12. Farmyard                                     _T. J. Barratt, Esq._

  13. Gipsies in a Wood                       _Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart._

  14. Evening; or, The Post-Boy's Return               _Lord Swaythling_

  15. Winter: Skating                         _Sir Walter Gilbey, Bart._

  16. Justice; or, The Merciless Bailiff                   "

       [A] On the cover


(Born June 26, 1763; died October 29, 1804)

The son of Henry Robert, who combined with the exercise of the painter's
art the work of cleaning and restoring old pictures, it may fairly be
said of George Morland that he was reared in the studio. His genius
betrayed itself at a very early age, some chalk drawings tinged with
crayon which he produced when ten years old being exhibited in the Royal
Academy. Such education as he received was given him at home; but it
would seem that his father kept him too closely at work with pencil and
brush to leave the boy opportunity of gleaning knowledge from books.

When fourteen years old, his father bound him apprentice to himself,
having ere then fully recognized the artistic genius which promised him
material advantages. Others than his father recognized George Morland's
genius: Sir Joshua Reynolds, who gave the boy the run of his studio,
urged that he be brought up in "the grand line" of art; and when his
indentures expired, Romney offered to take him as pupil at a salary of
£300 a year. Sir Joshua's recommendation was declined by the father; to
Romney's offer George would have nothing to say.

George was slow to discover a spirit of independence, even when he came
of age, remaining at home for at least six months after he had reached
man's estate. His independent career began in 1785, when he was
twenty-two years old. Having escaped from the hands of an Irish
picture-dealer who worked him for his own advantage, he spent a few
months at Margate, devoting himself with success to the painting of
portraits he had been invited to do by a Mrs. Hill. He seems to have
been tolerably industrious, for he was able to live in comfort and to
share the amusements offered by a then fashionable watering-place. On
his own showing he began to acquire at this period a taste for drink;
but he was young, of robust constitution and fond of exercise, and his
indulgence was not excessive.

After his return to London in 1786, he lived sometimes with his parents,
and sometimes elsewhere. Among his acquaintances he numbered William
Ward, the famous engraver, who had, ere this time, reproduced at least
one of Morland's pictures. He became a frequent visitor at Ward's house
at Kensal Green, and before long took up his quarters with the family,
consisting of the engraver, his mother, and two sisters. Anne Ward, a
very beautiful girl, soon captivated Morland, and they were married at
St. Paul's, Hammersmith, on September 22, 1786.

He appears to have been steady and industrious during his residence at
Kensal Green, and he continued to work hard for the first few months
after his marriage, which was followed a month later by the wedding of
William Ward to Maria Morland.

A joint establishment set up by the two young couples in High Street,
Marylebone, endured for about three months; a quarrel ended in
separation, and the Morlands found new quarters in Great Portland
Street. It was during his early married life that the artist painted,
among others, the six famous pictures known as the "Lætitia Series," for
which his wife sat as model. The move to Great Portland Street was the
first of the numerous changes of residence made by Morland during his
married life. During the first two years these changes were dictated by
the success which enabled him to house himself more comfortably; but the
period of steadiness and hard work was so brief that it may be dismissed
in a few lines. The advent of a still-born child, and the knowledge that
he might not hope to be a father, appear to have been the means of
unsettling him in his domestic capacity; and the indifference of his
wife to the music he loved may have contributed to the same end; but the
fact remains that within a year of marriage Morland began to neglect
her. He acquired the habit of making trips into the country during the
day and resorting to musical gatherings at night, leaving Mrs. Morland
much to her own devices.

He was not idle in the ordinary sense of the word. Gifted with
extraordinary facility, he painted numerous pictures which, if sold in
business-like fashion, would have produced enough to raise him to
affluence; but he had inherited from his father, in intensified form, a
singular lack of common sense. He sold his pictures for any sum that
might be offered, regardless of the fact that the purchasers took them
direct to dealers in the certainty of disposing of them for double the
money. Even while working on these lines his prolific brush and steadily
increasing reputation enabled him to make a good income; but success, if
the expression may be used, "went to his head." He launched out into the
wildest extravagance, regulating his expenditure by the ease with which
he could borrow rather than by the ease with which he could earn, and
while he had cash in his pocket he would not work. As his reputation
grew, largely through the medium of the engravings made from his
pictures, the anxiety of dealers and others to secure works from his
easel grew in ratio with it; his natural readiness to borrow was
encouraged on every side by those who intended, or hoped, to obtain in
pictures more than the equivalent of the money they advanced, and
Morland gave promissory notes with joyful recklessness, absolutely
indifferent to the load of debt he was rolling up.

The inevitable crash came in 1789, when for the first time he found it
expedient to fly from his creditors. There is evidence in the shape of
pictures to show that he sought refuge in the Isle of Wight; but he did
not long remain there. His legal adviser, Mr. Wedd, took his affairs in
hand, and he returned to London to go into temporary hiding while
matters were adjusted by means of a "Letter of Licence," a document
which secured him from arrest by making terms with his creditors. Under
this bond he pledged himself to pay off his liabilities at the rate of
£120 a month. How his credit declined in subsequent years is proved by
the series of "Letters of Licence" procured for him. These respectively
pledged him to pay £100, £50, and the last only £10, per month.

Perhaps the most pathetic feature of Morland's career is the
circumstance that the period which saw his greatest exertions to escape
from creditors coincided with that during which he produced his finest
work. "Inside of a Stable" (now in the National Gallery, and known as
"The Farmer's Stable") attracted universal attention when exhibited at
the Royal Academy of 1791, and raised the painter's fame to its zenith.
Commissions for pictures, with advances of money, were pressed upon him
on all sides; Morland accepted the cash, promised the pictures, and
launched out into wilder extravagance. He kept eight horses, or more,
for the country excursions on which his friends joined him; he
entertained lavishly; he drew round him a disreputable crew of
prize-fighters and similar characters, who lived upon him; and he
scattered money with a reckless hand. He could always find those who
were eager to lend, and, revelling in the ease with which he could raise
money, would not paint until he felt the pinch of need. When out of
funds he would work, and did so with the amazing speed and deftness that
stamp him a genius. There is no doubt that he drank at this time, but
his love of riding and outdoor life enabled him to throw off the effects
of over-indulgence.

His career from 1791 to 1799 was one long series of flights from one
place to another to avoid the creditors who pressed for money. From time
to time Mr. Wedd arranged his affairs in such wise that he could show
his face in London; and at other times men who wanted pictures relieved
him from his difficulties to the same end; but viewing these nine years
as a whole, the general impression left on the mind is one of a hunted
animal--now in hiding in the Isle of Wight, now in Leicestershire, now
in mean lodgings in a poor part of London, now out of sight. It is only
occasionally that we can trace his place of abode. He would go into
hiding, with friend or servant sworn to secrecy, and while in hiding
would work, and his companion would bring his paintings up to London and
dispose of them.

In 1798 he spent six months at Hackney, comparatively free from the
attentions of creditors, and during this brief period he executed some
pictures which compare favourably with those painted in his best years

The improvement was not maintained. Morland, whose nerves were now
suffering from the periodical debauches in which he indulged, and also,
no doubt, from the ceaseless pressure of creditors, left Hackney and
found refuge first in London and then in the Isle of Wight; and from the
Island he came, in December, 1799, to seek escape by procuring his own
arrest at the hands of friends. Nominally a prisoner in King's Bench, he
was "granted the rules," and took a house in St. George's Fields, where
he lived for a couple of years with his wife and his brother Henry.
When granted his release under 41 Geo. III., he remained in St. George's
Fields for a few months, and then, for the sake of change, went to
Highgate. From this time, during the few remaining years of his life,
Morland was an irreclaimable drunkard. His constitution was undermined,
he could no longer take horse exercise, and his excesses told upon him
rapidly. To the fact that he was now unable to work until he had taken
stimulant is due the common report that he "painted best when drunk."
Nevertheless, his reputation remained, and he was overwhelmed by
attentions from those who wanted pictures. The great aim of these
patrons now was to induce him to live with them that they might exercise
some control over his propensity for liquor, and keep him at work. His
brother Henry was most successful in this regard; for some considerable
time George lived with him, and, during his frequently broken stay,
painted a very large number of pictures, Henry paying him a specified
sum per day. This has been stated as £2 2s. and £4 4s., but in either
case Henry's profits must have been great.

Collins, one of Morland's biographers, has given us a melancholy
word-picture of the artist in these, his later days--besodden with
drink, his face showing every sign of excess; nerves gone, sight
failing, one hand palsied; yet able to produce works for which everyone

Leaving his brother's house, he went from one friend to another. For
many months he occupied lodgings in a sponging-house in Rolls Buildings,
kept by a sheriff's officer named Donatty; here he was free to come and
go as he pleased, yet was secure from arrest, and Donatty became the
owner of a number of fine pictures.

It was soon after he left Rolls Buildings to reside with some other
friend that he was arrested for the last time. The sum due was trifling,
but Morland had no means of discharging it, and was conveyed to a
sponging-house in Eyre Place, Eyre Street Hill, Hatton Garden. Refusing
the offers of friends to pay the debt, he insisted on remaining in
custody. He had frequently shown bitter resentment at the way his
quondam friends worked him for their own advantage, and preferred to
stay where he was. He strove to work; but the overtaxed brain and body
refused, and while at his easel he fell from his chair in a fit. For
eight days he lay almost insensible with brain fever, and then, without
recovering consciousness, he died.

George Morland's was a singular character. His love of flattery and
dread of affront may account for his choice of companions; he shrank
from association with his social superiors, finding congenial friends
among pugilists, grooms, sweeps, and persons whom he suffered to profit
by his recklessness in money matters. Endowed with a keen sense of
humour, whose artistic expression found vent in caricature, he found his
principal amusement in playing schoolboy practical jokes. George Dawe
hits off his character in a sentence when he says that Morland "never
became a man"; throughout his life his faults were the faults of a boy
and his virtues the virtues of a boy.

He and his wife were unhappy together and miserable apart. When he had a
home she shared it, and if he had not, he sent her money--when he could.
That he inspired her to the utmost with the affection he was able to
engage from all who came in contact with him, is proved by the fact that
news of his death killed her.

Morland's art embraced great variety of subjects. His earlier popular
successes were achieved by his figure paintings, and of these it is
worth noticing that among the best were pictures which pointed morals he
studiously ignored in his own career. The great popularity of W. R.
Bigg's pictures of child-life led the dealers to persuade Morland to
take up the same line of work, and in his pictures of child-life the
artist shows himself what we know him to have been--a lover of children
and one who had perfect understanding of them. The insight with which
he portrayed children is only equalled by that which distinguishes his
animal paintings. Morland's horses, ponies, asses, calves, and pigs, are
entirely his own; they possess a character which stamps them as the work
of one who had almost uncanny knowledge. He rarely painted a well-bred
horse; the animal that appealed to him was the farmer's work-horse or
the slave of the carter, and on these he expended his greatest skill.
Only an artist who was also a horseman could paint the horse as he
painted it. He has been described as a "pig painter," but this refers
rather to the success with which he proved the artistic possibilities of
subjects so unpromising than to the number of works in which pigs occur,
though it is admitted that he was fond of painting such pictures. His
asses and calves, in their kind, are equal to his horses; cows he seldom
painted, and when he essayed to do sheep he was not conspicuously

The composition of his works is rarely otherwise than pleasing, a point
the more worthy of notice when we remember that he never made studies,
but developed the picture under his hand as he worked upon it. The
straightforward simplicity, the absence of subtlety of his art, may
perhaps be in some measure an outcome of his method. His schemes of
colouring were subdued rather than brilliant; one of his few principles
of painting was that a touch of pure red should appear in every picture,
and we very generally find it.

Once Morland left his father's roof, his artistic education in one sense
ceased. He took not the slightest interest in the works of other
painters of whatever period; on the contrary, he avoided study of art
lest he should become an imitator; and went direct to Nature for all he
required. To this practice we may attribute his originality.

Since I had the pleasure of collaborating with Sir Walter Gilbey in
writing the biography of the painter, it has been pointed out that the
artist with whom George Morland has more in common than any is Jean
Baptiste Siméon Chardin (1699-1779). The resemblance between the figure
subjects in which each excelled is certainly striking; and this
resemblance, regarded in conjunction with the French nationality of
Morland's mother, has evoked the suggestion that the English painter may
have derived hereditary talent from the maternal side. Search through
the registers of the churches of the parish in which Henry Robert
Morland lived fails to reveal entry relating to his marriage. It may be
recalled, however, that Chardin's two daughters died in infancy.

                                                       E. D. CUMING.

[Illustration: Idleness]

[Illustration: Diligence]

[Illustration: Belinda, Billet-Doux]

[Illustration: The Effects of Youthful Extravagance and Idleness]

[Illustration: The Deserter's Farewell]

[Illustration: The Deserter Pardoned]

[Illustration: The Fox Inn]

[Illustration: Gathering Sticks]

[Illustration: Morning; or, The Benevolent Sportsman]

[Illustration: Farmyard]

[Illustration: Gipsies in a Wood]

[Illustration: Evening; or, The Post-Boy's Return]

[Illustration: Winter: Skating]

[Illustration: Justice; or, The Merciless Bailiff]

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