Statue of Watts on V&A

G. F. Watts on the façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, near the Brompton Avenue entrance.]


Born in London, son of a piano maker and tuner. Early enjoyed the run of the studio of sculptor William Behnes. Entered R.A. Schools, 1835. Won premium of £300 with cartoon of "Caractacus" for Westminster Palace, 1842. Went to Italy, where befriended by Lord and Lady Holland. Returned to England 1847. Became eminent portrait painter, but was more interested in allegorical subjects on monumental scale. Always admired Elgin marbles. Friend of Leighton from 1855, and like him (and many of the old masters) made small plaster models in preparation for compositions of paintings. Exhibited "Clytie" (a bust) at R.A. 1867. Life-size figure of Lord Holland seated, designed in collaboration with J. E. Boehm. Began colossal equestrian statue of Hugh Lupus, 1870, finished in 1881; repeated composition in "Physical Energy" posthumously erected in Kensington Gardens, 1908. A R.A. and R.A. 1897. — British Sculpture, 1850-1914

Biographical Materials


Artistic and Literary Relations

Events of note




British Sculpture, 1850-1914. Exhibition catalogue, The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street London Wl. 30th September-30th October 1968, no. 37.

Beattie, Susan. The New Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.

Blunt, Wilfred. "England's Michaelangelo": A Biography of George Frederic Watts, Om., R.A. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1975.

Bryant, Barbara. G. F. Watts: Portraits of Fame and Beauty in Victorian Society.

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

Gould, Veronica Franklin. Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938) Unsung Heroine of the Art Nouveau. London: Watts Gallery, 1998.

Hare, William Loftus. Watts (1817-1904). Full text at Project Gutenberg. [This appears to be a pamphlet in a series entitled Masterpieces in Colour edited by T. Leman Hare. The Gutenberg text does not indicate place or date of publication.]

Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.

M. S. Watts, George Frederic Watts. Annals of an Artist's Life. Macmillan, London 1912.

Wood, Christopher. Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters. London: Constable, 1983. 81-105.

Last modified 4 February 2020