Frederick Morgan was born in London in 1847, the eldest child of the artist John Morgan R.B.A. (1822-85). He was trained by his father but was then encouraged by his mother to find work in the City of London as she was concerned that the life of an artist was too precarious. This foray into business did not last long and he returned to his family house in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. He worked there for three years as a portrait painter for a local photographer. In the early 1870s he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy and the art dealers Messrs. Agnew & Son became his main patron. His early works were more oriented towards social realism depicting the hardships of rural labor, but as his style developed he began to focus almost entirely on sympathetic portrayals of children. By the 1880s, there was an increasing demand for such works and along with Arthur Elsley (Lots 64 and 70 in this sale) his works became well-known and much sought-after among the Victorian middle-classes.
Morgan was a founding member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1883, he exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1865 and 1919 and he exhibited internationally at the Exposition Universelle, Paris in 1878 and at the World Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
After purchasing the copyright of the present work, the print publisher C.W. Faulkner & Co. of 79 Golden Lane, London, renamed this piece Sunshine of Life. They published it as a large sepia photogravure, and later, circa 1900, licensed it for use as a smaller promotional print for Quaker Oats Porridge which was a smaller sepia photogravure that measured 17 x 10¼ in. The present work was also reproduced as the colour chromolithograph frontispiece to Our Little Dots Annual, vol. XI., Christmas 1896.
The two models in the present work also sat for Morgan's The Dandy Chair which was exhibited at the Royal Institute of Painters in Oils in 1896.
We are grateful to Terry Parker for preparing this catalogue entry.