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Money and Trade



A Seaside Sale
George Morland<br><i>Selling Fish</i>, 1792<br>Oil on canvas<br>Minneapolis Institute of Arts<br>Gift of the Paintings Council
zoom George Morland
Selling Fish, 1792
Oil on canvas
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Gift of the Paintings Council

 

In the late 1700s, people in England were fond of images showing genre scenes (pictures of everyday people and places). Because it is an island nation, England enjoys a strong seafaring heritage. The sea was one of British artist George Morland’s favorite subjects.

In this painting, called Selling Fish, Morland shows the rugged coastline of England’s Isle of Wight. Hungry seagulls soar overhead, while in the distance boats steer through the waves as dark clouds pass in the sky along the shore. In the foreground a woman has laid out an assortment of goods. To her left, the boat pulled ashore suggests the new arrival of her wares. A man on horseback has come to the seaside, basket in hand, to purchase freshly caught fish. Perhaps he has selected the stingray, which the woman points to, as he hands her a coin in payment.

Although Morland’s artwork was popular and sold well in his day, the artist was foolish with his own money. In order to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, he needed to produce artwork constantly. Eventually his careless spending habits landed him in debtor’s prison, but he is nevertheless considered to be among the most talented British painters of his time.


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1. A dog oversees the fresh catch of a large fish and a stingray.
2. A customer on horseback pays for his purchase with a coin.
3. The fishermen on this boat brave the stormy sea to make their living.

 

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February 2008