26th November 2017
20 June to 26 November 2017
G F Watts (1817 - 1904) had a career spanning over 70 years, and he inspired many household names including Rossetti, Tennyson, Leighton, Picasso, Lucian Freud and Barack Obama. Celebrating 200 years since his birth, England's Michelangelo explores Watts as a painter, social activist and philanthropist.
Explore the major themes of Watts's art: colour, cosmos and celebrity. View the artist's most striking masterpieces, borrowed from public and private collections and showcased in his own historic picture gallery.
See one of the nation's favourite portraits, Choosing (1864, National Portrait Gallery), displayed alongside powerful protest paintings and abstract canvases, such as The Sower of the Systems (1902, Art Gallery of Ontario), which is returning to the UK for the first time in over a century.
At the heart of the show are Watts's most ambitious allegorical and Symbolist works, including the iconic Hope (1886, private collection) and Love and Life (1880s, private collection), which formerly hung in the White House.
Don't miss this fantastic opportunity to enjoy Watts at his very best.
Enjoy a guided 40-minute exhibition tour on the last Tuesday of each month for just £4. Find out more.
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'The exhibition is a fitting tribute to Watts from a twenty-first-century perspective. Seen by some as a flawed genius, his formal experimentations are too complex to allow simple dismissal according to Modernist values. The works of art displayed here not only celebrate Watts's endeavour to capture deep ideas in meaningful form, but also continue to offer inspiration to audiences today.'
Matthew C Potter, The Burlington Magazine, October 2017
'The exhibition shows Watts at his very best with this superb hang. It contains many unexpected jewels, not least the fantastic room on his murals and frescoes.'
Dr Caroline Corbeau-Parsons, Tate, 2 July 2017
'Exalted in his day - and without a hint of irony - as our homegrown Michelangelo, Watts is best known for his lurid symbolic dramas with a campaigning message.'
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times, 10 June 2017
'The electrifying power of Watts... A huge figure in his Victorian heyday, George Frederick Watts is celebrated in a show of his greatest works, many on loan from around the world.'
Mark Hudson, The Daily Telegraph, 17 June 2017
'When one considers the simplistic moralising to be found in so many supposedly avant-garde works being made and exhibited right now, Watts does seem surprisingly contemporary.'
Edward Lucie-Smith, Artlyst, 6 July 2017