The Jury painting – artist

The Jury painting – about the artist

John Morgan was a highly successful Victorian artist well known for his genre scenes, in particular those, like A Winter Landscape with Boys Snowballing (Victoria and Albert Museum), which portray children. He was born in Pentonville, London in 1822 and as a young man was apprenticed to a business which designed frames and furniture for Gillow, Jackson and Graham. He studied at the School of Design at Somerset House, and later spent some time in Paris as a pupil of Couture and Delaroche.

By 1860 the Morgan family were living in Aylesbury where they remained until the mid 1860s. The 1861 census records them living in Church Yard, Aylesbury and describes Morgan as an Artist Subject Painter in Oils. His wife Henrietta is described as an Artist’s Counsellor. By 1864 the Morgans had moved to Tring Villas, a group of three large houses on the corner of New Road and Britannia Street. During his time in Aylesbury Morgan painted at least three pictures which depicted local scenes and people, including the Jury and the Country Auction (which shows the spire of the local church, St Mary’s).

John Morgan suffered from a bad chest and by the mid 1860s he seems to have begun visiting a number of places with a view to finding a home more congenial to his health. By the 1870s the family had moved to Guildford and here Morgan painted a number of works including the Storm.

Morgan’s work was clearly influenced by the work of other Victorian genre painters, most notably Thomas Webster and William Powell Frithe. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, the British Institution and Society for British Artists (SBA). Morgan was elected a member of the SBA in 1875.

In 1882 Morgan moved again to Hastings and died here in 1885. His studio sale was held at Christie’s on 1 March 1887. According to the V&A Catalogue of Oil Paintings his dates are usually given as 1823-1886 but the dates 1822-1885 were given by his son Frederick Morgan to T S R Boase.

John’s son Frederick Morgan was an equally popular 19th century genre artist. While in Aylesbury he worked in his father’s studio and the photographic studio of Samuel Payne, which was across the road from Tring Villas. Frederick married the artist Alice Havers in the 1870s although they later divorced. One of Frederick’s most famous paintings, His Turn Next (Lady Lever Art Gallery), which shows two children about to bathe a dog, was used by as an advertisement by the Pears soap company.

To learn more about the jurors click here

John Morgan’s Aylesbury paintings
Title Date Current location
The Income Tax – the day of the appeal 1861 Government Art Collection
The Jury 1861 Buckinghamshire County Museum
The Auction 1863 Sold at Christie’s in 2000, current location unknown