This previously unpublished and highly refined self-portrait of the young George Morland was made in 1775 when he was 12 years old. Carefully observed in profile, the portrait shows Morland’s characteristic features and messy hair.
Morland was a child prodigy who exhibited his first works at the Royal Academy at the age of ten and he went on to have a successful career as a genre painter, subverting the normal commercial model of artists in the period by building a profitable relationship with dealers and print publishers. Morland’s unconventional appearance mirrored his unconventional life and in spite of his commercial success he ended up in debt. This incisive and precocious early self-portrait underlines what an intelligent and sensitive draughtsman Morland was. An engaging, intelligent and beautiful drawing, this self-portrait is an important addition to not only Morland’s oeuvre but the genre of British self-portraiture in the eighteenth century.