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John Morgan, R.B.A. (1823-1885)
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John Morgan, R.B.A. (1823-1885)

The Lion and the Lamb

John Morgan, R.B.A. (1823-1885)
The Lion and the Lamb
signed 'J Morgan' (lower centre)
oil on canvas
36¼ x 28 in. (92 x 71 cm.)
London, Royal Society of British Artists, 1861, no. 360.
Liverpool, Liverpool Academy, 1861, no. 981.
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

The picture is a rediscovery, with no record of it being auctioned previously.

The painting is most likely The Lion and the Lamb, exhibited at both the Royal Society of British Artists and the Liverpool Academy in 1861. The protective 'lion' of an old man, with his mane of hair and whiskers, is guarding his 'lamb'.

The model for the man does not appear in any other known work by Morgan. His bandana suggests a brigand, but with the distant sea more likely a pirate, his few wordly possessions wrapped in the knotted neckerchief carried 'Dick Whittington' style at the end of a pole. The neck of a stoneware demijohn is just visible by his knee. He is still the proud lion despite 'being down on his luck'.

A similar young girl in a bonnet appears in Finding the Text, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1864, no. 233. She is most likely the artist's youngest daughter Lilian Henrietta Morgan, born in London on 8 February 1859.

The title appears to refer to the biblical passage: 'The wolf shall also dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them, (Isaiah 11:6 King James Version). The lion and lamb combination is more symbolic and more familiar to most people. John Morgan gained a reputation for his inventive titles. Two years later The Illustrated Times reviewer criticised him for his choice of title Red Tape (exh. R.A. 1863), calling it 'devoid of meaning'.

The picture was painted when Morgan had his studio at Church Yard, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. It was at this time that he painted The Country Jury (British Institute, London, 1862). He signed his work 'J. Morgan', and he was nick-named 'Jury' Morgan following the success of the engraving of this work.

We are grateful to Terry Parker for preparing this catalogue entry.

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