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Happy Birthday George Morland, an artist for whom too much was never enough.

Self Portrait, from the National Portrait Gallery. 

Today’s blog is a brief tribute to the artist George Morland who was born this day 1763. He is remembered for his beautiful soft landscapes, his pictures of gypsies and laundry women – everyday scenes.

He was born into a family of painters so perhaps it is not surprising that the ten year old George was already exhibiting sketches at the Royal Academy and at the Society of Artists. For a very brief time he was enrolled into the Royal Academy as a student but left college and decided to get a 7 year apprenticeship with his father at the age of 14.

The end of his apprenticeship meant he could escape from the stifling respectability of home life, and he kicked over the traces with some style and dedication! His adult life was a continuing series of encounters with creditors, spending time at the Kings Bench Prison, evading money collectors etc while pursuing a riotous lifestyle.

In the end all this dissipation caught up with him: he suffered from paralysis and epileptic fits. He died on 29th October 1804 at the age of 41. His long-suffering wife, Anne, only survived him by 3 days as she collapsed into convulsive fits on hearing the news of his demise. They were buried together in St James Chapel.

Here are a few of my favourite pictures by George, who lived life to the full, and then some…

First, a couple of smuggling and wrecking pictures:

The Wreckers, 1791  



The Smugglers









Here is one of his pastoral scenes, the wooded landscape with toll gate:

He was strangely fond of painting pigs! Here is one I like, followed for no particular reason by one entitled The Village Butcher!

I also like this one of the maid ironing, and one entitled Paying the Ostler:




8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday George Morland, an artist for whom too much was never enough.”

  1. My favorite is the maid ironing. I remember those irons – my gran had one. And of course, one always irons in a frilly cap and 18th Century dress, hours of drudgery go by so much quicker!

    1. Lucinda! Never ever pretend to me that you do the ironing, or even know where to find the wretched contraption! I see you more, well, enjoying the finer things in life, not faffing around in a maid’s frilly cap…

      1. Oh dear! You’ve found me out. Which is just as well, because I don’t like ironing and I certainly can’t abide frilly caps. Silk embroidered banyans require a visit to the dry cleaner, and that I can manage. As for the crumpled look… don’t wait to be fashionable, you must set the trend (which I’m sure is just what you are doing!)

  2. I must admit that as I don’t like ironing I don’t do it – and neither do I expect anyone else to do it for me. I am waiting for “the crumpled look” to be in vogue and then I will be fashionable again!

  3. Those irons are challenging to use, the innovation of a brick to heat in the fire and put inside a slot at the back made a lot of difference. It’s my favourite picture of his too. Of course if this maid is so beautifully turned out she might be lucky enough to be in a household that had iron warming ovens beside the fire to avoid all that soot.

  4. As for the ironing picture I see that in a blog relating to Morlands father, due out in November. I have included an almost identical picture – but in my opinion better, entitled “Laundry Maid Ironing” done by the father in 1785.

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