Charming study of a young lady in her dressing room with her attendants: a young man working on her elaborate hairdo and a young woman removing a hat from a box. Beneath the picture is a brief verse that comments on the fleeting nature of youthful beauty:
Uncertain as the Wind;
She grasps the shadow in her Arms
The substance leaves behind.
George Morland was a British artist in the first rank of sporting and rural genre artists of the Georgian era. His popularity in his own day was ensured by the publication of many prints after his pictures — in all, 420 engravings of Morland’s work by 74 English engravers are known to exist, perhaps a record in British art. Morland first exhibited his works at the Royal Academy at the age of 15. His pictures are characterized by picturesque nostalgia reminiscent of similar scenes painted by Dutch and Flemish artists of the 17th century. Morland’s father, mother and grandfather were all artists. He received his early training from his father and then was apprenticed to Philip Dawe. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy at age 15. In 1786, he married the sister of mezzotint engraver William Ward, who, a month later, married Morland’s sister. The two men were close professional associates as well, with Ward engraving much of Morland’s work. From that point on, Morland was a prolific producer of paintings of rural genre subjects; the constant demand for engravings of them made him financially successful. A colorful character, he was a heavy drinker and spent himself into debt, and through much of the 1790s moved from town to town to stay one step ahead of the bailiffs. Nevertheless, he continued to produce paintings – his brother’s books list 792 in the last eight years of his life, along with 1,000 drawings. When the creditors finally caught up with him in London in 1799, Morland was arrested and made to live in the debtors’ district. He paid the price for his profligate lifestyle, and by his late 30s was in poor health, and died at age 41. Morland’s paintings are found the world’s major museums, including the Wallace Collection and National Gallery in London, the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
William Ward was a well-regarded British mezzotint engraver, member of a family of artists that included his brother James and his sons Martin Theodore Ward and William James Ward. He exhibited at the Royal Academy beginning in 1795, and was elected an Associate Engraver of the Academy in 1814. He also held appointments as mezzotint engraver to the Duke of York and to the Prince Regent. Ward married a sister of the artist George Morland, whose works he often engraved.
William Dickinson was a printseller and engraver in London, trading alone in business, mainly as a sole proprietor from 1773 to 1802. He was associated with Thomas Watson from 1776, and they traded as Watson and Dickinson from 1778 until Watson’s death in 1781. In the early 19th century he moved to Paris, although he still supplied the London market from there. He died in Paris in 1823. Dickinson exhibited at the Society of Artists from 1768 to 1776. One of the finest mezzotint engravers of his time, he engraved portraits after Sir Joshua Reynolds and others.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear.
Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 24 July 2001. http://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-d.html (29 January 2009) (Dickenson) and http://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-w-z.html (Ward).
Redgrave, Samuel. A Dictionary of Artists of the EnglishSchool: Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Ornamentists. London: Longmans, Green, and Col., 1874. pp. 283-284 (Morland), pp. 433-434 (Ward).
“William Dickinson.” National Library of Australia. 17 June 2004. http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an9283218-1 (5 November 2004).
Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 3, pp. 369-370 (Morland).