Exhibition | George Morland: In the Margins

Posted in books, catalogues, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on April 10, 2015


George Morland, Easy Money, 1788 (Huddersfield Art Gallery)

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Now on view at the University of Leeds:

George Morland: In the Margins
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds, 18 March — 11 July 2015 

Curated by Nicholas Grindle

This exhibition looks at migrants and margins in the work of the painter George Morland (1763–1804), a popular painter whose lifestyle and early death earned him lasting notoriety. Over 250 of his works are held by public collections in the UK and US alone. His paintings of smugglers, gypsies, pedlars, soldiers, and families, which represent some of his best compositions, as well as how they mirrored his own life, raise compelling questions about who, and where, is ‘marginal’ in society. There has been no exhibition of his work since a small show in Reading in 1975 and no substantial discussion of his work since a thesis written in Stanford in 1977 and a chapter in John Barrell’s book Dark Side of the Landscape in 1980. His pictures resonate with contemporary issues such as migration and marginality in a way that was not evident thirty years ago.

The exhibition will run at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery from 18 March 2015 until 11 July 2015, with a possible UK tour from August 2015 onwards.

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A symposium is scheduled for the end of May:

Bohemians and Marginal Communities in the 18th Century: George Morland in Context
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds, 29 May 2015

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery presents a free symposium, bringing together academic discussion of the work of late 18th-century English painter George Morland. To coincide with our current exhibition George Morland: In the Margins, the Gallery is delighted to welcome experts and academics from a range of fields, to discuss the wider context of Morland’s work. These speakers will include the exhibition’s guest-curator Dr Nick Grindle (UCL); Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University, Christiana Payne; social geographer, Dr Martin Purvis; independent art historian, Dr Anthony Lynch; and UEA MPhil student Francesca Bove.

The speakers will address representations of social margins in Morland’s artistic output and look at the parallels between his life and works. What can his representation of gypsies, smugglers, pedlars and families tell us about the societal conditions of the late 1800s and how do they reflect our own times?  Morland was living on the brink of industrialisation, witnessing an increasingly capitalist culture and significant, sudden movements of people around the country; conditions which are still relevant to modern-day Britain. The worries of Morland’s contemporaries about the moral character and palatability of his works raises questions surrounding class relations and art’s role as social commentary and criticism.

Friday, 29 May 2015, 9:00–17:00. Free, though booking is essential. This event is kindly supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

More information about programming for the exhibition is available here»

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The catalogue is available from the University of Leeds online bookstore:

Nicholas Grindle, ed., with essays by David Alexander, Kerry Bristol, Sue Ecclestone, Nicholas Grindle, and Martin Purvis, George Morland: Art, Traffic and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century England (Leeds: The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, 2015), 99 pages, ISBN: 978-1874331544, £12.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 9.50.45 AMGeorge Morland: Art, Traffic and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century England looks at the life and work of popular painter George Morland (1763–1804), whose remarkable talent, prodigious output, bohemian lifestyle and early death earned him lasting notoriety. Morland was the most infamous artist in Britain at the time of his death in 1804. His paintings enjoyed a stellar reputation, which was enhanced by stories about his fabulous earnings, prodigal spending, legendary drinking, and staggering debt. He was renowned for his associations with smugglers, gypsies and pugilists, as well as his constant attempts to evade his creditors. His best work is breathtaking in its ambition and execution, while the popularity of his drawings, paintings, and the prints after his work rose throughout his lifetime. Within months of his death, no fewer than four books had been published packed with anecdotes—many apocryphal—about his life and work. No other artist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries commanded such a profile.

Morland was reputed to have painted thousands of canvases and made hundreds of drawings. But in spite of his immense popular and critical stature, recent scholarly attention has been patchy, and this is the first publication to seriously review the artist in over thirty years. It includes five new essays which use recent perspectives in historical geography and studies of print and exhibition culture to help us look in new ways at his work and practice, as well as catalogue entries that bring scholarship on his paintings up to date.

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