What do you reckon ‘The Reckoning’ is showing us?

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George Morland’s ‘The Reckoning: the farmer paying the ostler and pot boy of an inn’, was painted around 1800. Paintings of rustic scenes such as this one were popular in the 19th century, romanticising the beauty of the countryside for rich patrons, and sanitising the harsh reality of the poverty it contained. Such paintings can seem impenetrable to us in the 21st century due to the now unfamiliar characters and settings, and even words in the title which are seldom used anymore. However, studying such paintings can be rewarding once you unpick the who and the what in the scene and find out about the fascinating social background and relationships they highlight.

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