“To be popular a picture must appeal (and appeal instantly) to people of all ages and classes. Above all, it must not bring a blush to the cheek of the young person.” G. B. O’Neil
From an early age George ONeill exhibited regularly at the annual Royal Academy Exhibition and attracted attention for his skill as a portraitist and a painter of anecdotal genre scenes of contemporary life. The chief inspiration on ONeills style was David Wilkie; and beyond him, Dutch seventeenth-century genre painting. These influences determined not only his subject matter but his preference for warmer colour schemes. ONeill was especially influenced by the local buildings and their inhabitants, which he reproduced in cosy, domestic interior scenes. His paintings celebrated the lives of children, often in modern dress, engaged in ordinary activities. ONeills captivating scenes of rural life were extremely popular in the 1850s to 1870s, when his works were eagerly collected by Midlands industrialists. His paintings can be found in galleries across the UK, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Britain, London.