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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De Morgan Collection Talks

17 Sep

Meet Artists from the Prince's Foundation School of Traditional Arts

17 Sep

Permanent Collection Tours

18 Sep

Conservation Open Studio

19 Sep

Art Talks

20 Sep

Limnerslease Tours

until
22 Sep

The Make Space

22 Sep

Forest School

23 Sep

Exhibition Tour: John Frederick Lewis: Facing Fame

until
24 Sep