Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Morgan, Matthew Somerville

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MORGAN, Matthew Somerville, artist, b. in London, 27 April, 1839; d. in New York, 2 June, 1890. His father was an actor and music-teacher; his mother, Mary Somerville, an actress and singer. The son studied scene-painting and followed his profession at Princess's theatre, but became artist and correspondent for the “Illustrated London News.” He also studied in Paris, Italy, and Spain, and was one of the first artists to penetrate into the interior of Africa, which he did in 1858 by way of French Algeria. In 1859 he reported for the “News” the Austro-Italian war. He was afterward joint editor and proprietor of the “Tomahawk,” a comic illustrated London paper, and its artist. The most notable of his cartoons were attacks on the royal family, the first that were ever made. He was associated with Frank C. Burnand, William S. Gilbert, and others, in the establishment of the London “Fun,” and a volume of his cartoons in this paper has been published under the title “American War Cartoons” (London, 1874). In 1867-'9 he was principal scene-painter to the Royal Italian opera, Covent garden. He came to the United States in 1870 under an engagement with Frank Leslie, and, after working as caricaturist on the latter's publications, acted as manager of several New York theatres. He went in 1880 to Cincinnati, where he was manager of the Strobridge lithograph company till 1885, and did much to improve the character of theatrical lithography. He also founded there in 1883 the Matt Morgan art pottery company, and the Cincinnati art students' league. He returned in 1887 to New York city. Mr. Morgan contributed to the exhibitions of the Water-color society, and painted a series of large panoramic pictures, representing battles of the civil war, which were exhibited in Cincinnati in 1886 and elsewhere.