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Supported by Compton Parish & Guildford Borough Councils & Compton Village Association
Watts Gallery was built as a permanent exhibition of the studio collection of the famous Victorian painter and sculptor G.F. Watts, OM, RA. It houses works by Watts, including many of his portraits of great Victorians. Purpose built in what was then the grounds of the Watts’s country house in Compton, it was opened to the public on 1st April 1904 and included hostel accommodation for the Potter apprentices and a Warden. The building has an enchanting atmosphere and unique features in tune with its Arts and Crafts Movement origins.
“A hidden treasure in Compton in Surrey, stuffed with huge allegorical paintings and sparkling portraits by George Frederic Watts that were the talk of Victorian society.”
Maev Kennedy The Guardian
The English symbolist painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts lived in Compton during the latter years of his life.
George Frederic Watts occupies a unique place in the history of British painting. Famous in his day as a painter and sculptor, he gained the nickname of ‘England’s Michelangelo’. His aim was to re-invent British history painting in a grand manner, making images that were both uplifting and thought provoking. He believed art should also be accessible to everyone, not just the rich, so he gave many of his pictures to public galleries, helping to found the Tate Gallery in 1897.
Watts was a serious individual, so it may therefore come as no
surprise that his marriage to the teenage actress Ellen Terry,
was short lived.
In later life he married Mary Fraser-Tyter ( 1886) who was 36 years his junior. Mary devoted the rest of her life to her husband, both during his life and after his death.
In 1891 Watts made Limnerslease his winter retreat and it remained so until his death in 1904. Mary Watts, his second wife and the inspiration behind the move to Compton and the Chapel, continued to live there until she died in 1938.
Shortly before his death in 1904, G F Watts saw the opening of the first and main portion of 'Watts Picture Gallery' ( 1903)
Dr Nicholas Tromans is Curator and is currently Senior Lecturer at Kingston University, London. Nicholas has worked previously at Sotheby’s and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham, and has worked with many museums including Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts and most recently Tate Britain as a guest curator and consultant. Nicholas was the lead curator of the international touring exhibition, The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting. He has published widely on nineteenth-century British art, including books on Richard Dadd and on G.F. Watts’s Hope.
Click HERE for more details about Watts work, Events and Exhibitions
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