The Watts Story

George Frederic Watts OM, RA (1817 – 1904) was widely considered to be the greatest painter of the Victorian era. A portraitist, sculptor, landscape painter and symbolist, Watts's work embodied the most pressing themes and ideas of the time, earning him the title England's Michelangelo.

Mary Watts (née Fraser Tytler) (1849-1938) married G F Watts in 1886 beginning a strong artistic partnership. Mary Watts was a renowned designer in her own right, founder of the Compton Pottery (1900) and creator of Watts Chapel.

Early years

Born in London on 23 February 1817, Watts was the eldest son of a pianoforte maker and tuner who encouraged his son's talent for drawing.

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England's Michelangelo

In 1842 the Royal Fine Arts Commission announced a competition to decorate the new Palaces of Westminster. Watts submitted one of the winning entries.

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'I paint ideas, not things'

Ellen Terry

'Poems painted on canvas'

Mary Watts and Compton

In 1886, at the age of 69, Watts married the Scottish potter and designer Mary Seton Fraser-Tytler in Epsom, Surrey. They moved to Compton in 1891.

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Watts's final works

During his last years, G F Watts turned to sculpture and other forms of public art, completing his most famous work, Physical Energy, in 1902.

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Upcoming Events and Exhibitions

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Conservation Open Studio

26 Jul

Watts Academy: Watts Summer School

27 Jul

The Make Space

29 Jul

Limnerslease Tours: The Artists' Home

24 Jul
29 Jul

James Henry Pullen: Exhibition Tour

31 Jul

Conservation Open Studio

2 Aug

Summer Holidays: Florabundance

1 Aug
2 Aug

The Artists' Village Walking Tour

4 Aug

The Make Space

5 Aug