‘The Hero of the Hour’ large English oil painting by Morgan

By Morgan, Frederick (English, 1847-1927)


Ensconced in an elaborate giltwood frame, this large Victorian painting by Morgan celebrates the innocence of childhood via a tender familial scene.


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Filled with charm, this exceptional oil painting by the British artist Fred Morgan (1847-1927) captures the unspoilt innocence of childhood, a typical subject for Victorian painters.

Trained by his father - the artist John Morgan (R.B.A.) - Fred Morgan grew to become a highly prolific painter of sympathetic portraits of children. In line with the increasing demand for these works at the end of the 19th century, Morgan focused on depicting idyllic scenes of family life in the countryside like this work, and his work became highly popular amongst the Victorian upper classes. In both style and composition, this work bears significant similarities to another work of Morgan’s in the Mayfair Gallery collection, entitled ‘His First Suit’.

The painting is dominated by the familial scene in the foreground. Crowded around a makeshift tea table made of a tree stump, a triumphant son holds up a small fish that he has freshly caught, accompanied by a maid who gestures to his catch. His mother and two sisters watch on in delight, pointing to the fish and clasping their hands together in excitement. As with several of Morgan’s other paintings on this theme, the models are his own family members, with his son Courtney as the boy and his wife Mary as his mother. The table is set with half-eaten tea and cake, and Morgan renders these items with impressive detail.

In the background, Morgan includes a number of charming details which capture a sense of the natural idyll. Surrounding the family are several animals, including a pair of ducks and a curious tabby cat who looks eagerly at the fish. Behind the family composition extends a long pier, at the end of which a fisherman can be seen mooring his boat. A warm summer light illuminates the scene, casting reflections in the still lake in the background.

Unlike the works of his father, which were rooted in realism, Morgan approaches the scene from a more painterly angle, with the lush landscape and flowing fabrics rendered with gestural brushstrokes. The style of the Impressionist circle, whose influence was spreading from France to Britain at the time, is evident in Morgan’s technique and his evocation of an en-plein-air feel.

Ensconced in a stunning giltwood frame carved with foliate designs, the canvas is signed in the lower left ‘Fred Morgan’. The piece is further signed, inscribed, and numbered on a label attached to the reverse, which reads ‘The hero of the hour/ Fred Morgan/ 155 Auckland Road/ Upper Norwood S.E./NO 2.'

This superb painting expertly casts the viewer into a rural paradise, and celebrates the purity of childhood and family.

Canvas: Height 86cm, width 120cm
Frame: Height 122cm, width 154.5cm, depth 11cm


Artist / Maker
By Morgan, Frederick (English, 1847-1927)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Late 19th Century
Genre, Victorian
Giltwood, Oil on Canvas


122 cm / 48 inches
154.5 cm / 60.6 inches
11 cm / 4.3 inches


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