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George Morland, 1763–1804, British

The Squire's Door

ca. 1790
Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 15 5/16 x 12 7/8 inches (38.9 x 32.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
beggar | child | columns (architectural elements) | costume | dog (animal) | door | genre subject | horses (animals) | house | peasant | poor | poverty | squires | woman
Not on view

British country sports such as fox hunting were rituals that reinforced class distinctions at a time when a distinctive working-class consciousness was beginning to be formed. George Morland often represented the encounter between country gentry and the rural poor in his paintings, which were typically reproduced as moralizing mezzotints. In this scene, an elegant lady stops before going riding to dispense alms to a beggar girl who has come to her door. Morland represents her charity as an act of benevolence, reinforcing the social hierarchy by showing the gentry as good and the poor as submissive and dependent. Here the realities of country life are ignored, and the little girl is shown as healthy and cherubic despite her poverty, a testament to the ongoing benevolence of the squire’s daughter.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Ann Bermingham, Landscape and ideology, the English rustic tradition, 1740-1860 , Thames and Hudson, London, 1987, pp. 53-54, fig. 28, ND1354.4 B47 1987 (YCBA)

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 162-163, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 44, ND466 G67 (YCBA)

Christiana Payne, Toil and plenty, images of the agricultural landscape in England, 1780-1890 , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1993, p. 36, fig. 13, ND1354.4 P39 1993 (YCBA)

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