Paintings by George Morland - 31
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From: Essential History of British Art - Isabella Steer - ISBN 0-752555-348-8

George Morland (1763 - 1804)

Roadside Inn 1790

While Blake was distilling his inner soul, George Morland was churning out sentimental genre subjects, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy from the late 1770s. He was apprenticed to his father, Henry Robert Morland, a landscape and conversation-pieced painter. Morland senior was also a restorer and copyist of Dutch landscape Old Masters and similarly taught his son to copy, restore and forge. George Morland is known particularly for his scenes of low- and middle-class rural life, although his style owes more to Dutch and international landscape influence than to archetypal English scenery. He first came to Pubic notice with pseudo-rustic scenes, which were heavily popularised by high-quality engravings - Morland had married the sister of the engraver William Ward in 1786. The body of his mature work consisted of peasants and animals on the farm, rustic figures in a generic landscape and figures of common life - sailors, soldiers and deserters: poignantly portrayed. The origins of these paintings is in a saccharine conflation of Mercier's conversation pieces and Hayman's depictions of everyday life. Morland himself was much copied and forged, and the popularity of his paintings and engravings ensured that the English village scene would became part of the repertory and taste of the Victorian era. Morland's contemporaries included Francis Wheatley (1747-1801) and Philipe Jacquces de Loutherbourg (17447-1812), who was first employed by David Garrick as a scenery painter at Drury Lane Theatre in the 1770s. He revolutionised theatre design with his knowledge of the effects of contrast and introduced painted flats on transparent gauzes lit from behind. As a landscape painter he visited the Lake District 1783, at a time when the region was becoming the epitome of all that was rough and wild. Rusticity was valued over pastoral glamour, cosy close-ups such as Morland's scenes over sweeping views, and roughly textured painterly surfaces grew in popularity. It was in this climate that MorIand painted Easy Money in 1788. A 1751 Parliamentary Act had limited the sale of distilled spirits to licensed public houses, an the 1780s was a period of reinforcement of the Act. The painting's appeal is almost voyeuristic: Morland's interior seems to be a private house turned into an illegal gin shop - a notorious drunk himself, the characters he portrays were probably recognisable groups. The figures were distorted, leering and devious, with pickpockets and prostitutes amongst the motley crew. If anything, this was “dirty picturesque”, a genre with visible links with the work of Hogarth and Rowlandson. Part modern moralising (Hogarth, in Gin Lane, had treated the subject with his habitual caustic eye) and part humoristic, the rhythmic positioning of the degenerates as they queue at the makeshift bar brings Rowlandson's caricatures to mind.

Morland - Roadside Inn

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