Discover The Collection

The Artists' Village

G F and Mary Watts, Victorian artists and visionaries, built their home in the Surrey Hills amongst the breath-taking scenery of the Pilgrims’ Way. Taking inspiration from their surroundings, both artists thrived, creating works within their home and studio, Limnerslease. The Artists' Village restores that sense of wonderment found by G F and Mary, explore their work from architecture to drawings in this Artists' Village collection.

Photograph of G F Watts from the Rob Dickins' Collection

Photograph of G F Watts from the Rob Dickins' Collection

Photograph

View all

Photograph of G F Watts from the Rob Dickins' Collection

Artist

Unknown

Object Type

Photograph

The Rob Dickins Collection includes 3,500 photographs of over 1000 artists and leading personalities of the nineteenth century, together with 1,000 artist letters. After purchasing an archive collected over many years by Jeremy Maas, the London art dealer, one of the Watts Gallery's trustees, Rob Dickins CBE added his own collection and generously donated it to the Watts Gallery in 2007. The Rob Dickins collection includes images of royalty and politicians, such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, influential thinkers, writers and musicians including Ruskin, Darwin and Dickens, artist celebrities, including G F Watts and his circle. Also included are the Pre-Raphaelites and Aesthetes including Holman Hunt, Rosetti, Burne-Jones and their muses.


The extent and value of this rich archive has yet to be fully researched and its importance is still in the process of being discovered. Treasures such as Holman Hunt's family album can be found as well as 'The Red Album', made up of letters, photographs and biographies of artists. In the nineteenth-century the fascination with celebrities was not limited to their visage but public curiosity extended to homes and lifestyles. Artists themselves encouraged this interest through the grand studio houses that they built. These were great extravagant buildings, which functioned simultaneously as homes, studios and palaces of entertainment as well as being a material embodiment of success. Some of the notable photographs included in the Rob Dickins Collection are the studio of G F Watts at Limnerslease and the interior shots of Heatherley's School of Art in London. This remarkable collection further develops the Watts Gallery's centre for exploring Victorian art, social history and craft.

To find out more about the Rob Dickins Collection, please contact fellow@wattsgallery.org.uk

Watts Chapel interior

Watts Chapel interior

Architecture

View all

Watts Chapel interior

Artist

Mary Watts

Date

1896 - 1898

Object Type

Architectural interior

Materials/Technique

Gesso

The richly-decorated interior of the Chapel is intended to illustrate the dual nature of everything, from day and night, growth and decay to stability and change. The intricate details of the gesso carving are fabulously coloured, adding to the sense of wonderment when entering the Chapel.

Blackbird Bottle

Blackbird Bottle

Ceramic

View all

Blackbird Bottle

Artist

William De Morgan

Materials/Technique

Ceramic

Reference

De Morgan Foundation

Pencil Study of a Man's Frowned Face, Study of Anger (Copy after an Unknown Source)

Pencil Study of a Man's Frowned Face, Study of Anger (Copy after an Unknown Source)

Sketch

View all

Pencil Study of a Man's Frowned Face, Study of Anger (Copy after an Unknown Source)

Artist

G F Watts

Date

1827

Object Type

Drawing

Materials/Technique

Pencil on paper

Dimensions

Height 31cm x Width 24cm

This detailed hatched drawing shows the head and neck of a mature bearded man, his flowing hair and flared nostrils give intensity to the image and the sheer precision of the work showcases Watts' incredible talent. This unique work which portrays such a strength and maturity of emotion, was in fact created at the tender age of 10.

To find out more about the works on paper which are archived in our collection, please contact our archival team on curatorialprojects@wattsgallery.org.uk


Worship of Mammon

Worship of Mammon

Painting

View all

Worship of Mammon

As a spiritualist Evelyn was obsessed with the opposing concepts of materialism and spiritual wellbeing and she returns to this theme in several of her paintings. The most overt representation being in her painting, The Worship of Mammon, which she painted in 1909, some 15 years after G.F. Watts first tackled the subject in his painting Mammon: Dedicated to his Worshippers (1884-5), the oil study for which is in the Watt's Gallery. In both paintings Mammon, the demon of covetousness is shown ensconced in a thrown, in an elevated position, whilst being idolised by his followers who reject spiritual wealth in favour of greed and the acquisition of worldly wealth. However, the similarities stop here, Watt's Mammon is grotesque in appearance and in an act of horrifying violence crushes his worshippers under his massive limbs as they reach for his bags of money. Watts' motivation for painting the scene was to demonstrate the greed of Everyman, inspired by his personal aversion to the evils of money. However, Evelyn's intent in creating her Mammon was to illustrate her religious principals, and in particular the passage from Matthew's Gospel “You cannot serve two masters…you cannot serve God and Mammon”. in De Morgan's representation, the young woman clutches desperately at the knee of a distant and stone like Mammon, yearning up into his face, which stares down at her remorselessly. The statue holds out a bag of gold, but the woman ignores the money - she has moved from the love of gold, to the love of Mammon himself and so has cut herself off from the love of God and has doomed herself.

Mammon Dedicated to his Followers: G F Watts
Watts Gallery

Watts Gallery

Architecture

View all

Watts Gallery

Artist

Christopher Hatton Turnor (1873–1940)

Date

1904

Object Type

Building in the style of the Arts & Crafts Movement

Before 1903 Watts had commissioned a number of leading architects to design buildings for him: Frederick Pepys Cockerell (1833–78) had created his home and studio, new Little Holland House, while George Aitchison (1825–1910) had produced its gallery extension; Philip Webb (1831–1915) had created The Briary, his house on the Isle of Wight; and Ernest George (1839–1922) had designed Limnerslease, his house in Compton. With the Watts Gallery, the artist selected a relatively unknown architect Christopher Hatton Turnor (1873–1940), who was living within a mile of Compton with his parents. Watts's choice of Turnor reflected both his and Mary's Arts and Crafts ethos in supporting a local man as well as an architect who would follow very clearly Watts's ideas for the building. Turnor later recalled:


Dear old Signor asked me to build the picturegallery at Compton, & to keep it a simple & rural type of building.

It was constructed in rendered concrete and Surrey tiles, and its foundation stone, a beautiful terracotta block, was laid by Watts on his eighty-sixth birthday, 23 February 1903, Watts lived to see the gallery open for only three months, dying on 1 July 1904.


The building was originally named the Hostel, referring to the accommodation at each end, although the central section was consistently called the Watts Picture Gallery, a name adopted for the whole building when it reopened in 1906 after the addition of an extension. In 1904 the Surrey Advertiser wrote:


A little building in Compton which has been given the name of The Hostel… was designed to serve a double purpose: to provide a home for some of the young men and lads engaged in the terra-cotta pottery which Mrs Watts has successfully established at Compton.

The part of the Red Gallery now called the Livanos Gallery has always been the main entry point to Watts Gallery. When it first opened, it had a turnstile to control the visitors who thronged in large numbers to see the works of G F Watts. The gallery features a selection of significant works that span over sixty years and show the variety of output of the artist, who was equally a master of portrait, landscape, and symbolic and history painting. The works are displayed against the original rich red wall-covering scheme that the artist chose. Watts Gallery was specifically created to exhibit these paintings and there is a special relationship between the two.

To find out more about the historic galleries and what treasures they hold, attend the monthly Gallery Tours, find out more here.

Venetian Design Wallpaper

Venetian Design Wallpaper

Unclassified

View all

Venetian Design Wallpaper

Artist

Tynecastle

Date

1903

Object Type

Wallpaper

Materials/Technique

Red linen

A Pen and Ink Study of Rider and Horse for 'Physical Energy'

A Pen and Ink Study of Rider and Horse for 'Physical Energy'

Ink Drawing

View all

A Pen and Ink Study of Rider and Horse for 'Physical Energy'

Artist

G F Watts

Object Type

Pen and ink drawing

Materials/Technique

Ink, pencil, paper

Dimensions

Height 8.9cm x Width 10.7cm

G F Watts's colossal Physical Energy is his most ambitious sculpture, known through the original plaster model at Watts Gallery, Compton and three bronze casts in Cape Town, London and Harare. But Watts first began sketching his ideas in humble pen and ink.


The continuing interest in Physical Energy, a design originally conceived in 1870, is traced to the present day through its ongoing reproduction in statuettes and its emblematic value as a logo or trademark.

Ruby Lustre Christmas Vase

Ruby Lustre Christmas Vase

Ceramic

View all

Ruby Lustre Christmas Vase

Artist

William De Morgan

Object Type

Ceramic Pot

Reference

Constantine

This vase was made by De Morgan one Christmas by his workforce. Inscribed on it is a verse by the Poet Omar Khayyam 'ALL THIS OF POT AND POTTER TELL ME THEN WHO IS THE POTTER, PRAY AND WHO THE POT' .

G F Watts roundel

G F Watts roundel

Sculpture

View all

G F Watts roundel

Artist

Marcus Cornish

Date

2013

Object Type

Roundel

Materials/Technique

Terracotta clay

Following the winding path up through the Artists' Village, and finding your way to Watts Gallery, two faces are there to greet you as you enter the historic galleries. The two roundels seen at the apex of the pitched roofs were sculpted by artist Marcus Cornish, and show the faces of George and Mary Watts looking out over the Gallery lawn.


The Roundels were unveiled on Wednesday 2nd July 2013 at a dinner hosted by Trustee and Benefactor to the Artists' Village, Debby Brice.


Marcus explains his technique and what inspired him,


Initially I looked at as many different paintings and photographs by different artists that were available at Watts Gallery and from my own research.
I then made two little models which tried to find the character of the person I was portraying. Watts does come across as austere, pinched and small, but notably, self-consciously like Titian. This of course needed to be emphasised so that his manner presented from a distance.
Mary was made in the same way, looking at the commonalities from one picture to the next. This led me to create a pattern of the head. I wanted to recall the character of someone who called her husband Signor. Because of the convictions of someone so committed to her husband, she is skewed, not quite on centre, looking towards him. It also presented the opportunity to expose her neck in the same way that her husband was interested in for many of his paintings and sculptures.
Regarding the receding aspect: I was trying to give them as much drama as I could in a limited format, therefore they needed to be such deep roundels.
I used the terracotta because it is so complimentary to the building and resonant of the Arts & Crafts movement.


More of Marcus's work can be seen on his website.

Pilgrims' Way

Pilgrims' Way

Unclassified

View all

Pilgrims' Way

Date

500–450 BC

The Pilgrims' Way is the historic route supposed to have been taken by pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire, England, to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury in Kent. The route in fact follows a pre-existing ancient trackway dated by archaeological finds to 500–450 BC, but probably in existence since the stone age. The Pilgrims' Way meanders right through the Artists' Village and past Limnerslease, the artists' home and studio on the hill.

Triptych after Death Crowning Innocence, Love and Death, and The Messenger

Triptych after Death Crowning Innocence, Love and Death, and The Messenger

Sculpture

View all

Triptych after Death Crowning Innocence, Love and Death, and The Messenger

Artist

Mary Watts

Object Type

Sculptural relief

Materials/Technique

Bronze

Mary 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 Watts Gallery Trust for several international exhibitions, and it is no surprise when you recognise the detail and precision of the work.

Photograph of Lilian with her portrait behind her

Photograph of Lilian with her portrait behind her

Photograph

View all

Photograph of Lilian with her portrait behind her

Object Type

Photograph

In 1890 Watts leased land at Compton and had a house built by Sir Ernest George named Limnerslease. Around this time Watts and his wife were introduced to an orphan named Lilian Mackintosh (later Mrs Michael Chapman) whom they adopted and who became heir to part of their personal estate. Lilian is pictured here standing in front of a portrait painted of herself in 1904, by her adoptive father. The portrait can now be seen in the historic galleries.

Galleon Tile Panel

Galleon Tile Panel

Ceramic

View all

Galleon Tile Panel

Artist

William De Morgan

Date

1895

Object Type

Tile Panel

Materials/Technique

Ceramic

Reference

De Morgan Foundation - Constantine

De Morgan undertook a number of commissions throughout the course of his business, the largest of which was for P&O between 1882 and 1890 he designed decorative ceramic tile schemes for 12 different P&O passenger liners.

This spectacular tile panel, depicting galleons in full sail with sea creatures, landscape and sunrise was designed for the P&O ship the S.S.Malta and is typical of the schemes which he designed for 12 P&O ships between 1882 and 1900. De Morgan had a great fondness for the sea and is quoted by his sister-in-law in her 1922 biography William De Morgan and His Wife, as wistfully stating

“I should like to be buried at sea during a glorious sunrise off the islands of Majorca and Minorca".

The tiles are marked on the reverse with an early Fulham Period impress stamp - dating the panel to between 1888 and 1897 and letters written between De Morgan and his business partner Halsey Ricardo, further place the panel as part of their designs for the s.s.Malta in 1895. The tile panel was acquired by the De Morgan Foundation in 2007 with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Art Fund.

The Gilded Cage

The Gilded Cage

Painting

View all

The Gilded Cage

An overriding theme in her work was Women's suffrage. This can best be illustrated by her iconic painting The Gilded Cage. In the painting a young woman, dressed in sumptuous gold robes, looks wistfully at revellers outside. Her entrapment in a patriarchal society which dictated her confinement in the domestic sphere is echoed by the golden caged canary in the top right of the painting.