Cast 2 (1907)

Watts’s original intention for Physical Energy had always been to create a large-scale public statue. As the artist explained, ‘I always intended the work, ever since it assumed positive form and on a level with my series of symbolic pictures, to be national property’.

Once the first cast was made, the artist continued to revise the gesso model in his London studio. His artist-wife Mary Watts suggests that ‘one considerable change was being made’: ‘the head of the rider was thrown further back, and his outlook was therefore towards a higher point of view’. However, the time Watts required to finish the work was ‘shortened beyond his expectations’ when on 4 June 1904 he fell ill, passing away less than a month later.

After the artist's death, this revised but still incomplete model was cast as part of Watts’s substantial bequest to the nation. As it was yet to be cast, £2000 was committed from the Treasury to pay for the new bronze.

In September 1907 it was installed in Kensington Gardens, London where it remains on public display today.

Strikingly angular in form, Physical Energy is a significant and innovative example of British sculpture and public art at the turn of the twentieth century, pointing the way to modernist sculpture.