A Life in Art: G F Watts 1817-1904
28 February to 5 November 2017
A Life in Art: G F Watts 1817-1904 will provide an introduction to G F Watts, offering a chronological journey through his illustrious life, which will be illustrated by some of his most exquisite drawings, preparatory studies and compositional sketches to reflect every aspect of his artistic output. By highlighting key occasions in his seventy-year career, this intimate show will tell the story of Watts and his rise to prominence, from humble origins to world-famous artist.
The display will present little-known drawings from Watts Gallery Trust's collection and showcase Watts as a master draughtsman and 'England's Michelangelo': a contemporary epithet bestowed on Watts by his friend and fellow artist Frederic, Lord Leighton.
Often Watts's slight, delicate drawings sowed the first seed for more elaborate paintings or sculptures, illuminating the trajectories of these finished works and allowing for intriguing glimpses into Watts's creative processes.
Many of the drawings included serve to enrich our key Watts 200 exhibitions. Among the highlights is the elegant Study for the Figure of 'Life' for 'Love and Life' (1880-89), which effortlessly captures the profile of the artist's charismatic teenage muse and first wife, Ellen Terry, in sanguine chalk. Her tilted head, parted lips and yearning expression were replicated in the prime version of Love and Life (1884), famously shown in the White House, which is generously being loaned to our June exhibition from a private collection.