George Morland was a child prodigy who began to draw at the age of three and exhibited by age ten. His talents were carefully cultivated and ruthlessly exploited by his father, who shut him up in a garret to make drawings from pictures and casts for which he had found a ready sale. It is said that he hid some of his drawings, lowering them from a window by night, where they were collected by his young friends. Together, they would spend the proceeds on low entertainment.
His adult life followed much the same pattern. Having trained from early childhood, he became an extremely prolific and popular artist, able to paint one or two pictures a day, but too often sold them to the first dealer to arrive with four guineas and a bottle. In consequence, he spent much of his life fleeing debts, dying in poverty at the age of 41.
Had Morland been so disposed, he might have devoted himself to refined subjects that would have appealed to wealthy patrons. Living hand-to-mouth, in some cases trading his paintings to settle tavern scores, he painted rustic scenes that reflect the milieu in which he actually lived. These have become an invaluable window into the beauty of everyday life in pre-industrial Britain.