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’ [1].

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’ [2]. 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.

> Read on: Cast 3 (1959) of Physical Energy

[1] Mary Watts, George Frederic Watts: Annals of an Artist’s Life: Writings on Art, vol. II (London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1912), p.270.

[2] Mary Watts, George Frederic Watts: Annals of an Artist’s Life: Writings on Art, vol. II (London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1912), p.348.