Notes for editors

Background information for writers and editors.

Watts Gallery Trust is an independent charity established in 1904 to enable future generations to connect with the art and ideas of George Frederic Watts, one of the leading artists of the nineteenth century.

G F Watts OM RA (1817-1904) was widely considered to be the greatest painter of the Victorian age. He became the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the artist’s ‘gift to the Nation’ made a significant contribution to the founding collections of Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery.

In 1890, with his second wife Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938), Watts moved to Compton, a hollow in the Surrey Hills located on the Pilgrims’ Way. Together they commissioned a country home and winter studios, Limnerslease, from leading Arts and Crafts architect Ernest George, and from 1891 they resided there. What followed was the creation of a unique Artists’ Village, starting with the Grade I-listed Watts Chapel, an Arts and Crafts masterpiece designed by Mary and realised through a community arts project in the last decade of the nineteenth century and then Watts Gallery, the first purpose-built art gallery in the UK dedicated to a single professional artist, which opened its doors to the public in 1904. Together with Tate and the National Portrait Gallery, Watts Gallery provides a complete overview of G F Watts’s art and aspirations.

Today, Watts Gallery - Artist’s Village consisting of Limnerslease, the Grade I listed Watts Chapel, the Pottery Building that formerly housed the Compton Potters Arts Guild, Watts Gallery and thriving Shop and Tea Shop is a leading regional visitor attraction. It has a dynamic and multi-sensory programme of creativity and making within its vision of Art for all by all. Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village strives to make art accessible to all through the collection and exhibitions, programming, contemporary art projects and community engagement and will continue building this through its vision, mission and values.