Watts Gallery - Artists' Village

Open until 19 February 2016

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Friends for forty years, G F Watts and Frederic Leighton enjoyed one of the Victorian era's longest and most productive artistic partnerships. Although both men were celebrated painters, drawing was the skill they most admired in one another. Masterful, personal, and beautiful, their drawings are imaginative records of their artistic ideals and reveal the pair's extraordinary technical ability. Showcasing some of the artists' never-before- seen masterpieces, this exhibition will bring Watts's and Leighton's finest drawings together for the first time.

Bringing together 70 works on paper from the Watts Gallery Collection and Leighton House Drawings Collection – Brothers in Art will shed new light on one of the period's most fascinating artistic and intellectual partnerships and will reveal the richness, diversity and wider significance of Victorian drawing.

George Frederic Watts (1817 – 1904) and Frederic Leighton (1830 – 1896) were friends for over forty years. As neighbours in the unique colony of artists' houses built in Holland Park in the second half of the 19th century, the “two brothers-in-art" would often call on each other using a gate that connected their gardens.

Both artists expressed huge appreciation of each other's artistic skill. Of Leighton's drawings, Watts proclaimed his “unbounded admiration," saying that he only wished his friend would “retain more of the beauty of his sketches in the finished work". And upon first meeting Watts in 1855, Leighton declared that “Watts is a most marvellous fellow, and if he had but decent health would whip us all, if he does not already".