Frederick Morgan ROI (1856-1927)

The painter Frederick Morgan specialised in pictures of children, rustic idealised peasants, baby animals, and jolly sailors with twinkling eyes, in any combination. Morgan's paintings were very numerous, and very popular, and several were reproduced as prints to reach a wider public. The Magazine of Art commented on his 'effective illustrations of subjects of direct appeal to the sympathies, without encumbering his pictures with too many technical problems'. His less well known father, John Morgan RBA, had a similar oeuvre, but also painted historical and biblical pictures.

Fred Morgan was born in London, lived in Aylesbury, Leighton Buzzard, 3 years at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, and then finally in London. He was trained in art by his father, and had early success, with his first picture at the Royal Academy (The Rehearsal) at the age of just 16. He worked for a time as a portraitist for an Aylesbury photographer, for those clients not wanting just a photograph, and then gradually turned to subject pictures. He exhibited profusely at the Royal Academy. From 1874 Agnews purchased all his work for several years. He married another painter, Alice Havers, in 1872, and their eldest son, known as Val Havers, also became a painter.

As well as light-hearted subjects, Morgan also made some good attempts at serious work. It is these that have tended to end up in museum collections. The Pedlar is at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, and an excellent Girl's Head (actually almost half-length, looking at some flowers) is at the Russell-Cotes Museum in Bournemouth. His Turn Next, an insipid picture of children and dog with bath used as an advert for Pears Soap, is in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. Other work is at Sheffield and Leeds.

Engraving after a picture by Fred Morgan.

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