J. R. Smith after George Morland
The Fern Gatherers
London 1st. May 1799
Mezzotint. Proof before titles
480 x 600 mm
Both Morland’s (1763-1804) father and grandfather had been artists, and he soon specialised in painting picturesque rural subjects, which he had to turn out very quickly in order to pay for his dissolute, drunken lifestyle. William Ward (1766-1826), was a pupil of the eminent mezzotint engraver John Raphael Smith. A quiet and studious artist, his career contrasted strongly with the wild and debauched lifestyle of his brother in law George Morland. Ward had married Morland’s sister and in 1786 Morland married Ward’s sister, although he later abandoned her. Morland died in the debtor’s prison at Coldbath Fields, and is buried with his wife, who survived him by only three days, at St. James’s Hampstead. His epitaph reads ‘Here lies a drunken dog’.