Found Drowned

Found Drowned by George Frederic Watts RA (1817-1904). 1867. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Watts Gallery, Compton.

According to Veronica Franklin Gould, “Found Drowned, a legal term indicating suicide, shows the body of a woman on the shore beneath Waterloo Bridge, her legs immersed in the polluted Thames; as moonlight shines on her, the Shot Tower and Brunel's new suspension bridge loom in the background: technological progress is overshadowed by social failure.” She then continues rather puzzlingly, “how fortunate was the woman[,] Carlyle observed, thwarted in her attempt to drown because her crinoline inflated in the river and floated her gracefully ashore” (29). Given the painting's title, this last remark makes no sense: the Victorian sage was either wrong or being characteristically acerbic, but the woman is clearly dead, and so it's not clear why Gould would refer to Carlyle's remark at all.

Related Material

Bibliography

Gould, Veronica Franklin. G. F. Watts: The Last Great Victorian. London: Yale University Press, 2004.


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Last modified 9 April 2007