Not of the Fold signed 'Fred Morgan.' (lower right) oil on canvas 111 x 176cm (43 11/16 x 69 5/16in).
PROVENANCE: Aquired in 1881, Walker Art Gallery for £350 Thence by descent to present owner Private collection, Italy
EXHIBITED: London, Royal Academy, 1881, no. 1354 Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Autumn 1881 no. 116
LITERATURE: Academy Notes 1881 p. 74 The Builder Vol. XL, 21 May 1881, p. 626 The Illustrated London News Vol. LXXIX, 23 July 1881, no. 2201, p. 77-78 The Art Journal Vol. 48, April 1886 p. 116 Academy Notes 1881 by Henry Blackburn p. 74
Fred Morgan, ROI (1847-1927) was the eldest son of John Morgan, RBA (1823-1885). He married a talented fellow artist named Alice Havers, SWA (1850-1890) on 13th April 1872. Initially they both exhibited small canvases of urban London, domestic, and mainly interior scenes. After the opening of the Royal Academy Summer exhibition, in early May, many London-based artists left the metropolis in search of settings for their future works.
John Morgan had moved from London to Guildford in 1871. The success of his rural genre landscapes featuring children and adults inspired his son and daughter-in-law to change direction. They too left their London home and rented Edmond's Farm in the Surrey village of Gomshall, in the summers of 1875, 1876 and 1877. Unlike today, this part of Surrey was a poor, rurally depressed area which attracted numerous artists to paint around the area. Around this time titles like The Surrey Hills feature regularly in exhibition catalogues.
Francis Stephen Cary who ran Sass's Art School in Bloomsbury, retired to the neighbouring village of Abinger in 1874, where he died on 6 January 1880. Helen Allingham stayed in Shere in the summer of 1878, John White lived at Shere 1877-82, Frank Walton lived at Dorking and painted in the Shere and Gomshall area from the 1860s until the early 1900s, while Joseph Langdale Pickering, RBA, ROI, lived at Abinger Hammer 1875-77. Other artists known to have worked around Shere include Richard Redgrave, George Vicat Cole, RA, Benjamin Williams Leader, RA, Frank Holl, John Robertson Reid, Robert Hills OWS, Richard Rayner, William Blandford Fletcher, George Charles Haite, Lewis Pinhorn Wood, John Nesbitt, William Frederick Hulk, Edward Aubrey Hunt, Robert Paton Reid, John Douglas, Charles Robertson, and Charles Rowbotham.
Morgan and Havers set about painting large canvases depicting agrarian toil and the plight of the rural peasantry. Foremost among these paintings were Morgan's The Emigrant's Departure R.A. 1875, and After the Reaper's Work Is Done RA 1878, whilst Havers's contributions included The End of Her Journey RA 1877, and The moon is up, but yet it is not night. RA 1878. All their canvases were painted around Gomshall, Abinger, Shere and Godalming. These new subjects were a great success at the Royal Academy and many of them were bought, prior to the exhibition, by the leading art dealer William Agnew.
Morgan spoke fluent French which he had learnt as child whilst living in Paris for two years 1854-5 when his father was studying there. The Morgan family left Surrey and spent the Autumn of 1878 and 1879 painting in the countryside around Varengeville-sur-Mer in Normandy. In 1879 Havers exhibited French titles including their location, but Fred gave less specific titles. These French works show a more romanticised view of agricultural labour.
Not of the Fold was painted, when Morgan was 33 years old, during his first successful period. The setting is the village of Shere a short distance from where the Morgan family had previously stayed. The footbridge is over the Tillingbourne River, which flows through the valley, and the distinctive tower and spire of St. James Church, Shere can be seen in the distance. Morgan most likely returned to Surrey in late autumn 1880 to paint this work, but Havers appears to have remained in their London home due to their marital difficulties, plus she was pregnant with their third and last child Reginald Frederick, born 3rd January 1881.
Morgan may have stayed at the White Horse Inn which is the other side of Shere church from the scene in the painting. It was a popular 'watering hole' for artists, and an album of signatures and sketches by visiting artists was sold at Sotheby's, London 26th July 1977 lot 6.
This is a well constructed, multi-figure, classic composition which Morgan would have learned while working in the studio of his father. Morgan greatly admired the work of Frederick Walker, ARA (1840-75), and the peasant woman and child pay homage to the figures in Walker's first RA exhibit The Lost Path 1863 (no. 712). ["... in his earlier life he fell under the influence of Fred Walker, and essayed combination of peasant life with landscape." 'Pictures of Children' by Fred Dolman The Lady's Magazine Vol. 2, September 1901 p. 217.]
The elderly squire, with his walking stick, also appears in Alice Havers's Caught R.A. 1875 (no. 509). This work, also painted in Surrey, shows a boy being brought before the squire after being apprehended scrumping apples. The mixed-breed dog is well painted and anatomically correct, unlike Morgan's own attempts at canine portraiture, which would suggest he asked his friend Allen Culpepper Sealy (1850-1927) to paint it. Sealy painted the dogs in Morgan's Love Me, Love My Dog RA 1879, and Rival Families IPO 1885.
Morgan and Havers regularly included their children in their works. Their son Valentine (born 13th Feb. 1873) aged 8, and their daughter Lillian (born 5th Jan. 1875) aged 6, appear to be the children crossing the footbridge. Morgan's other Royal Academy exhibit in 1881 Nature's Mirror (no. 355); two girls by a stream looking at their reflection, was also 'hung on the line.' Strangely Agnew did not buy either of Morgan's 1881 RA paintings but he did purchase Havers's exhibit The First Arrivals (no. 379). Not of the Fold has been unrecorded since its exhibition in 1881.
We are grateful to Terry Parker for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.