Cedric Morris was born in Swansea and although he lived in England for most of his life, he always remained proud to be Welsh. At seventeen, after failing his exams to enter the army, he moved to Canada to work on a farm. Upon his return to Wales he enrolled at the Royal College of Art to study singing but soon switched to painting and entered the Académie Delacluse in Paris. He returned to England at the outbreak of the First World War but he was deemed medically unfit to join the army and he moved to Newlyn, Cornwall in 1917. He met the painter Arthur Lett-Haines the following year and began a lifelong relationship with him. Together they lived in Cornwall, Paris and London throughout the 1920s, as well as travelling extensively in Europe.
Morris’s first solo exhibition was in Rome in 1922 and he had successful exhibitions in London in 1924 and 1926, the same year in which he became a member of the Seven and Five Society. He was also a member of the London Artists’ Association. By the end of the 1920s, Morris was also involved in commercial work, designing textiles for Cresta Silks and posters for Shell and B.P. Having left London, Morris and Lett-Haines lived in Suffolk throughout much of the 1930s. They then established the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham, Essex in 1937. In 1940 the school moved to Benton End in Hadleigh, Suffolk, their students including Lucian Freud and Maggi Hambling, and the pair there lived until their deaths. A retrospective exhibition of Morris’s work was held in the Tate Gallery in 1984. His paintings include portraits, landscapes and still-lifes of flowers and birds. His portrait subjects included Rosamond Lehmann and Lucian Freud. His work is represented in many public collections such as the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum Cardiff.