Nurturing genius in a pigsty: George Morland and the making of the modern artist

Bove, Francesca (2018) Nurturing genius in a pigsty: George Morland and the making of the modern artist. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis reassesses the artistic oeuvre, practice and identity of the painter George Morland (1763-1804), who last received sustained monographic attention over forty years ago despite being an important figure in the history of eighteenth-century British art. Informed by the recent scholarship in that field as well as sociological theories on art, this thesis interprets Morland’s characteristic rustic imagery as the product of artistic, commercial and exhibition strategies, including strategies for self-definition within the crowded London art world. These included ‘the myth of Morland’, an identifiably modern yet historically-grounded paradigm of the quasi-bohemian artistic persona and biography which previous work on the artist has tended to take at face value. Instead, this thesis argues that Morland’s persona was shaped by the artist in collaboration with dealers, publishers and writers, the result of a shrewd mutual engagement with the possibilities offered by commerce for the reconfiguration of artistic values, during Morland’s lifetime and beyond. Morland’s persona is therefore described as part of his creative practice alongside his artistic oeuvre, which is here reassessed in light of extensive immersion in Morland’s known output, contemporary criticism and unpublished archival material. The thesis therefore identifies four types of artworks as most central to Morland’s practice: his animal paintings, his drawings, their printed reproduction and his self-portraits (as well as portraits by others). Across its four main chapters, the thesis analyses the varied form and significance of each of these types of artwork in turn, considering their distinct role in changing notions of art, aesthetic experience, and artistic practice and identity. As such, this thesis describes Morland’s art and persona as participating alike in a quintessentially modern project of resituating both the artist and the artwork beyond the pale of modernity itself.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Users 9280 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2018 11:10
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 07:42

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