Ever since its foundation in 1904, Watts Gallery has continued to be the chief repository of G. F. Watts’s work. When Watts Gallery first opened, the collection included 109 core works, primarily finished oil paintings and a few sketches, all by G.F. Watts, donated by the artist from his London studio in Kensington. The collection was subsequently enriched by gifts from Mary Seton Watts and Lilian Chapman (née Macintosh, Watts’s adopted daughter), and has been expanding through other bequests and donations as well as new acquisitions.
Today the Gallery houses over 6000 diverse objects including over 250 oil paintings, 800 drawings and watercolours, some 130 prints, 200 sculptures, and 240 pieces of pottery as well as unique ephemera and memorabilia related to G. F. Watts, Mary Seton Watts and the history of Watts Gallery. The Gallery also has two rare photographic collections-over 300 photographic reproductions of Watts’s untraced paintings by Frederick Hollyer, as well as The Rob Dickins Collection of over 4000 Victorian photographs. The artworks range from finished masterpieces to sketches, studies, sculptural maquettes and purely experimental works never intended for public display.The nature and scope of the Watts Gallery collection make it a fascinating resource for the study of Watts’s working methods and techniques. It demonstrates Watts’s remarkable evolution as an artist in terms of style and subject matter over the seven decades of his active career, as well as his responses and contribution to the development of British and European art of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.