life painter house
MORLAND, GEORGE (1763-1804), animal and subject painter, was born in London on the 26th of June 1763. He came of a race of artists. His father, a painter, mezzotint-engraver, and picture-dealer, gave him a careful art-training, and at an exceptionally early age he produced works of wonderful promise. At sixteen he exhibited sketches at the Royal Academy, and even before this his productions found ready purchasers, and some of them had been engraved. But already the taste for dissipation, which was stronger in Morland than even his love for art, had begun to manifest itself, and at seventeen he escaped from the over-strict discipline of his father's house, and began a career of reckless prodigality which has hardly a parallel in art-biography, gathering round him an entourage of the most abandoned associates, and supporting himself by the sale of the pictures - rustic subjects and scenes from low life - which he threw off with unexampled rapidity. About 1786 there appeared to be some prospect of amendment. He went to reside at Kensal Green, came under the influence of better companions, and married a beautiful and virtuous girl, a sister of James Ward the animal-painter and William Ward the engraver. The subjects which Morland painted during this period reflect the change in his way of life. The Idle and Industrious Mechanic, and Letitia or Seduction, moralities in the style of Hogarth, were engraved and became exceedingly popular. But soon the force of old habit asserted itself, the desire for freedom and lawlessness returned to the artist with redoubled violence, and he again drifted into a career of riot and intemperance. The means of dissipation were not wanting ; the dealers were eager for his productions ; indeed, so greatly were they esteemed that skilled copyists were employed to make many transcripts from the pictures on which he was at work, which were sold as originals to an unsuspecting public. The finest of Morland's subjects date from 1790 to 1792. In 1791 was painted the Inside of a Stable, now in the National Gallery, probably the artist's masterpiece. In spite of his popularity and his industry his affairs became inextricably embarrassed. For a time he eluded the bailiffs with singular dexterity, but in November 1799 he was arrested. Obtaining the Rules of the Bench, he took a house within bounds, and continued to practise both his art and his debauchery. He was released under the Insolvent Act of 1802, but his health was ruined and he was speedily stricken with palsy. Partially recovering, he continued to paint, but before long he was again arrested for debt, and died in a sponging-house in Eyre Street, Coldbath Fields, on the 29th of October 1804. His wife survived him only some three days, and they were buried in one grave.
The most characteristic works of Morland are those which deal with rustic and homely life. They show much direct and instinctive feeling for nature, and admirable executive skill, but they have no elevation of subject, no great beauty of colour or truth of atmosphere. They suffer from the haste in which the artist habitually worked. Many of them have been admirably mezzotinted by J. It. Smith and his pupils, William Ward and John Young. Particulars of Morland's life will be found in the biographies by J. Hassell (1804), G. Dare (1807), and 131agton (1806), and in Memoirs of a Picture, by W. Collins, 1805.