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John Morgan (1823-1885)
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John Morgan (1823-1885)


John Morgan (1823-1885)
signed 'John Morgan' (lower right) and signed and inscribed 'John Morgan/Juicy' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
36½ x 28 in. (92.7 x 71.1 cm.)
London, Royal Society of British Artists, 1883/4, no. 74.
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Lot Essay

John Morgan was elected a member of the Society of British Artists, London in 1875. This work, entitled Juicy, was one of four paintings he exhibited there in the Winter exhibition 1883, no. 74 price £150. It was also exhibited at the Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport, Spring 1884, no. 102.

'Among the attractions on the line are two well painted genre pictures by John Morgan (102 and 103); the former is called Juicy, and represents two little dots dividing an apple.' (Southport, Spring Exhibition of Pictures, Liverpool Mercury, 7 March 1884).

John Morgan's ailing health led him to constantly seek healthier climes. In the Spring of 1882 he moved his family from Guildford to the coastal town of Hastings, where the sea air would help his weak chest. He no longer painted children's games in landscapes, and all his Hastings works are interior juvenile genre scenes painted in his studio, at 26 St. Helen's Road.

Following the birth of his son, Vernon, on 28 January 1877, John Morgan, a doting father, concentrated on painting him. In this work Vernon is the strawberry blond child on the left. He would have been a couple of months short of his seventh birthday when the painting was completed. The fashion of this time was to dress young boys in dresses before 'breeching' (the wearing of their first trousers), which continued until the early 20th Century.

Vernon is offering an unknown girl the apple in a reversal of the Adam and Eve tradition. An apple was a popular prop in the artist's later works - The Hard Apple (Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, Spring 1883 no. 292) and Do Try (Institute of Painters in Oil, Winter 1883 no. 384). Both show children offering an apple to an elderly seated woman.

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

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