A Visit to the Boarding School, a mezzotint after George Morland is this month’s featured work. Sending children to boarding school was unusual in the 18th century, except for pupils sent to charity schools or children coming from very rich families. This print by William Ward, showing a mother’s tearful visit to her daughter at boarding school, epitomizes the emotional attitudes and reactions of most families at that time.

A Visit to the Boarding School

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The scene takes place in an austere interior with a few books on a mantelpiece. The mother, fashionably dressed with a brown gown, a black overcoat and black-feathered hat is reaching for her daughter who is reluctantly brought in front of her by one of the teachers. A younger boy, possibly her brother, dressed in a blue suit and a sash, enthusiastically greets her. Two other shy girls standing in the garden are peeping through the open door.

The print was published on 28 December 1789 after George Morland’s painting of c. 1788 in the Wallace Collection.

George Morland was a late-18th-century artist born in London. He was apprenticed to his father the painter and art dealer Henry Robert Morland (c.1716–1797) for seven years before he studied at the Royal Academy Schools. He exhibited from a young age at the Royal Academy where his works were listed under the title ‘sketches by Master George Morland’.and also exhibited works at the Society of Artists of Great Britain. His engravings had such wide appeal that it was often copied and even faked. However, his last years were plagued by excessive drinking, debts and poor health. Although he continued to paint in an effort to pay creditors, the quality of his later work shows a marked decline.  He died aged 41 at a bailiff’s lodging-house in Clerkenwell, London.

William Ward was a British engraver to the Duke of York and associate engraver at the Royal Academy. He mainly produced history paintings, portraits and landscapes. He was George Morland’s brother-in-law.