1716-1797
The Letter Woman

Oil on canvas
30 x 25 inches
Original gilt frame

EXHIBITED
Probably Free Society of Artists, London, The Letter Woman, 1769, no. 164

ENGRAVED
Philip Dawe, mezzotint, published by Carrington Bowles, 1769

Henry Robert Morland was a painter of portraits and genre subjects, in both oil and crayon. He exhibited over one hundred works from 1760 to 1791 at the Society of Artists, the Free Society and the Royal Academy. Morland also restored paintings and sold artists’ supplies, including crayons that he made himself.

Morland was very successful for a time and even painted a portrait of George III, the king sitting in person. Unfortunately he lost most of his wealth and was often bankrupt in later years. He died in London.

Philip Dawe trained under Henry Robert Morland and was probably also related to him by marriage to his daughter. The present painting, along with A Young Woman Shucking Oysters By Lamplight, also engraved by Dawe, is said to depict the daughter of Morland. In this painting a young post woman, standing beside a lantern and ringing her bell, is holding out her hand to receive the fee for taking a letter from a boy on the left, but he has ‘lost his penny’.

Philip Dawe trained under Henry Robert Morland and was most probably also related to him by marriage. The present painting, along with An Oyster Girl, also engraved by Dawe, is said to depict Miss Morland.

Henry Robert Morland was an English portrait painter, best remembered for a portrait of King George III, and for being the father of the animal painter George Morland. His father was the genre painter George Henry Morland, and Henry Robert followed an art career as well, becoming a painter of portraits and domestic subjects, in both oil and crayon.

He exhibited some 118 works from 1760 to 1791 at the Society of Artists, the Free Society, and the Royal Academy. Morland also engraved in mezzotint, restored paintings, and sold artists supplies, including crayons that he made himself.

Morland was for a time very successful and even painted a portrait of George III, the king sitting in person. Although he became quite wealthy for a time, he lost most of his money, and was often bankrupt in later years.

He died on 30 November 1797 at Stephen Street, Rathbone Place, London, after having led an unsettled life.

His wife Maria Morland was also an artist, and exhibited in 1785 and 1786 at the Royal Academy. Their son was the celebrated George Morland, one of the most popular painters of his day.