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Watts Gallery
Down Lane, Compton
Guildford, Surrey
GU3 1DQ, United Kingdom
T: 01483 810235
F: 01483 810285


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Return to London and the Late 1840's

Watts returned to London from Italy in 1847 with his Alfred Inciting the Saxons, which was awarded first premium of £500 and purchased for a further £200 by the Royal Fine Arts Commission for the Palaces of Westminster. He lodged at the less than salubrious 48 Cambridge Street, off the Edgware Road, for two years and encountered a changed artistic climate. The great hero of history painting, B.R. Haydon, had committed suicide around the corner from Cambridge Street in 1846, and the press was becoming increasing hostile towards the high art with which Watts was involved.

A move to the more fashionable 30 Charles Street, Berkeley Square, gave rise to new associations and a change in fortunes for the artist, who was facing a difficult time. Watts was also disturbed by the increasing poverty in London and Ireland, which he expressed in four paintings from this period, Found Drowned, The Seamstress or The Song of the Shirt, The Irish Famine and Under a Dry Arch. These paintings were unique to this period, and The Good Samaritan was a turning point, as social concerns were expressed in a symbolic manner rather than through realism, which the artist later rejected.

Mark Bills