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.

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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Physical Energy Surrey Residents Consultation

until
24 Nov

Curator's Choice Picture Talk

24 Nov

G F Watts: England's Michelangelo

until
26 Nov

Victorian Christmas Weekend

25 Nov
26 Nov

Helen Allingham Exhibition Tour

28 Nov

Curator's Choice Picture Talk

1 Dec

Guided Tours of Limnerslease

28 Nov
3 Dec

The Make Space

3 Dec

The Make Space

10 Dec