attributed to Henry Robert Morland, The Market Girl

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
The Market Girl
? c.1770s
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 90 cm, Overall width: 69 cm
attributed to Henry Robert Morland (1716-1797)
Catalogue Number


Stamford Raffles Flint asserted that the picture was painted by Joshua Reynolds. He noted: ‘The picture belonged to my great aunt Anne Marchioness of Thomond, and hung in the dining room of her house 39, Grosvenor Place. My father bought it at the sale of her effects after her death in 1874’.1 The provenance is at first suggestive, since Reynolds’s niece, Mary Palmer, was the first Marchioness of Thomond. However, Anne, Marchioness of Thomond (1791–1874) was the third wife of James O’Brien, third Marquess of Thomond (1769–1855), whom she married in 1847. The widow of Rear-Admiral Francis Fane, she was also the aunt of the Reverend William Charles Raffles Flint, father of Stamford Raffles Flint and purchaser of the picture at the 1874 sale.

On stylistic grounds an attribution to Reynolds is not tenable. A more plausible attribution, in terms of the picture’s style and subject matter, is Henry Robert Morland (1716–1797), father of the painter George Morland (1763–1804). Henry Morland, who painted in oils and pastels, specialised in character studies, known as ‘fancy pictures’ – images of alluring young women in service performing household chores, such as ironing and washing linen, as well as street vendors and, occasionally, courtesans. Such pictures had a popular appeal and were replicated by Morland and others as paintings and engravings. The present picture depicts a young woman, evidently a market trader, with a basket of eggs and poultry for sale. Although it is distinct in terms of subject matter, the painting’s format relates to similar subjects in this vein, by then commonplace in Britain and Europe, where the genre had flourished since the seventeenth century. Images of plucked chickens, and women in the act of plucking chickens, were commonplace in Dutch art. In relation to her role as a street vendor, The Egg Seller can be compared with Johan Zoffany’s Watercress Girl of c.1780 (fig. 1).

1780. Mezzotint engraving, 38.1 × 27.6 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1970.3.702).

Figure 1.
John Raphael Smith after Johan Zoffany, The Watercress Girl, 1780. Mezzotint engraving, 38.1 × 27.6 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1970.3.702).

Digital image courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

by Martin Postle


  1. Stamford Raffles Flint, MS notebook, n.d., n.p., Trewithen.


Related catalogue items from Trewithen

  • Castle Howard Trewithen

    James Heywood

    British School, c. mid-1720s

  • Castle Howard Trewithen

    Thomas Mudge

    James Northcote, 1782

  • Castle Howard Trewithen

    Thomas Hawkins

    Allan Ramsay