Paintings by George Morland - 130


The piggeries

George Morland, whose pictures can be seen in both the Lady Lever and Walker collections,was arguably the most genuinely popular of late eighteenth-century British artists. During his brief life, according to his contemporary biographers he may have produced as many as 4000 paintings. However this and many other highly-coloured "facts" about him need to be treated
with caution.
This painting is a fine example of Morland's characteristic rural subjects - rustic life with plump animals and contented rosy-cheeked peasants that presents an idyllic rather than accurate view of the English countryside. Pigs have had a mixed place in art - appearing as symbols of gluttony, sin or uncleanliness in religious art, or, in contrast like here, as part of a scene of rustic plenitude.

It was the great eighteenth-century portrait painter and landscapist Thomas Gainsborough who can be seen as popularising the pig in British art by his inclusion of the animal in his famous "cottage-door" paintings of the 1780's. Morland was a great admirer of Gainsborough and apparently studied and copied his work as part of his education. Also during the last two decades of the eighteenth century peasant and rural subjects became fashionable throughout Europe in poetry, opera, novels as well as pictures. Morland's art fits in with this fashion.
Morland's paintings were much reproduced - as black and white engraved mezzotint images printed from copper plates.  So great was the demand for prints that worn plates had to be reground and recut to print more. One commentator wrote;

"the subjects of his pictures being adapted to common comprehension the prints engraved from them had an unparalleled sale not only in this country but abroad particularly in France and Germany. Of those of "Dancing Dogs" and "Selling Guinea Pigs" five hundred pairs were sold in a few weeks".
Morland made arrangements with London print dealers to display groups of his pictures and to charge an entrance fee to view them - with the opportunity to buy a print afterwards.  There are other contemporaneous examples of print-connected displays of paintings in London (in particular the famous Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall) but such a one-man commercial venture was unusual. Not surprisingly Morland made a great deal of money.

Listen to a recording of Frank Milner's talk on 'The Piggery' online now (opens in a new window).

Horse and plough

The Bell Inn (many different Morland paintings share this title)

he Bell Inn, Kilburn
Oil on Canvas
10 x 12 inches (25.4 x 30.5 cms)
Price range:    10,000 - 20,000

Triumph of Benevolence

Strangers at home

The cottage door (there are two pictures with this name)

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