George Morland was born in London, the son of the artist Henry Robert Morland (?1719-1797), to whom he was apprenticed for seven years from 1777. During this time he copied and imitated paintings, particularly seventeenth century Dutch landscapes and a number of sea views after Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789).
Morland later specialised in genre scenes and picturesque landscape, often imaginary, preferring to dispose of the finished pieces through dealers rather than accepting commissions despite his increasing popularity as an artist. He even declined an invitation to paint 'a room of pictures' at Carlton House for the Prince of Wales, who would succeed to the throne as King George IV.
Morland, who led a profligate existence and was increasingly in debt in his later years, reportedly painted some eight hundred pictures in the last eight years of his life, many of which were to settle bills. Much of his work was engraved and published, a testament to his artistic success.