Watts, George Frederick (1817-1904) by Scholes, Robert

George Frederick Watts (1817 – 1904) A portrait painter and sculptor, George Frederick Watts was born in London, the son of a piano-maker. Initially he wanted to become a sculptor, and at the age of 10 was apprenticed to William Behnes. However, in 1835, at the age of 18, he went to the Royal Academy Schools, where he remained for only a short period, and thereafter was mainly self-taught. G. K. Chesterton on Watts: More than any other modern man, and much more than politicians who thundered on platforms or financiers who captured continents, he has sought in the midst of his quiet and hidden life to mirror his age… In the whole range of Watts’ symbolic art, there is scarcely a single example of the ordinary and arbitrary current symbol…. A primeval vagueness and archaism hangs over the all the canvases and cartoons, like frescoes from some prehistoric temple. There is nothing there but the eternal things, day and fire and the sea, and motherhood and the dead.

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