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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Watts Academy: Watts Drawing School

26 May

Limnerslease Tours: The Artists' Home

until
27 May

The Make Space

27 May

A Pre-Raphaelite Collection Unveiled: The Cecil French Bequest Exhibition Tour

29 May

Conservation Open Studio

31 May

Limnerslease Tours: The Artists' Home

29 May
31 May

The Artists' Village Walking Tour

2 Jun

Fantastic Beasts

27 May
3 Jun

May Half Term

27 May
3 Jun