Mary Watts triptych in US exhibition

Posted by Admin on 5 Sep 2014, 11:58 a.m.

Later this month the exhibition Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901, opens at Yale Center for British Art in the US. The exhibition is the first of its kind to examine the production of sculpture in Britain and its empire under the reign of Queen Victoria.

Mary Seton Watts’s commemorative bronze relief triptych (after G F Watts's three works: Death Crowning Innocence, Love and Death, and The Messenger) has been borrowed from the Watts Gallery Trust for this exhibition.Last week I acted as courier the courier to the work. This involved travelling with the crate that contained the bronze triptych and supervising the preparation of the palette the crate would travel on to JFK then accompanying it by truck to Yale Centre for British Art. I was fortunate to also be travelling with couriers from the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum who had a number of crates between them.

When artworks have travelled they need to sit in the environment they will be displayed in for 24 hours to acclimatise to the atmosphere before being removed from their crates. This afforded me the opportunity to venture into New York the next day and do some exploring. I was particularly keen to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they have in their collection what is said to be the original plaster model of Clytieby George Frederic Watts.

The following day I returned to Yale Center for British Art to oversee the installation of the triptych. The work is displayed on a plinth, much like our own in the Richard Jefferies Gallery, and secured to the wall. Yale have borrowed works from the Watts Gallery before, but this was the first work to be displayed at the Center by Mary. It attracted great interest from the staff at the Center and all agreed that the photographs they had received for the catalogue did not do the work justice.

I ended my stay at Yale by taking some time to explore the magnificent permanent collection at the Center, which has a small oil on panel of Watts’s Hope, which was gifted to the collection in 1961.

The Sculpture Victorious exhibition opens in February next year at Tate Britain. The triptych will be displayed at the Watts Studios at Limnerslease when they open in late 2015.


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