John Morgan was a successful painter of contemporary and historical genre, who specialised in narrative canvases incorporating many figures. He often painted children whose disparate activities - in a school yard or classroom - gave him opportunity to explore the subtle satire for which he achieved renown. His most famous works include The Village School in Bedfordshire (1869; see Christie's, London, 26 November 2003, lot 33) and The Fight (see Christie's, London, The Forbes Collection of Victorian Pictures and Works of Art, 19 February 2003, lot 16).
Morgan was inspired by his contemporaries Thomas Webster (1800-1886) and William Powell Frith (1819-1909). Although his art aimed to charm, works such as The Jury and The Appeal against Income Tax (both 1862) convey political messages in a palliative way.