G. F. Watts


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The Last Great Victorian

Veronica Franklin Gould

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George Frederic Watts (1817–1904) was a titanic figure in nineteenth-century British art. The father of British Symbolism and portrait painter of his age, he forged a controversial career that spanned the reign of Queen Victoria. This book, the first in-depth biography of Watts, sheds new light on the pioneering spirit and breadth of mind of the artist.
Drawing on Watts’s abundant personal correspondence and diaries and an array of other contemporary documents, the book chronicles the artist’s career and personal life, including his friendships with Edward Burne-Jones, Frederic Leighton, William Gladstone, and Alfred Tennyson and his relationships with a series of singular women. The book also examines Watts’s wide reforming zeal and political agenda as well as his role and dealings in the Victorian art world.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Veronica Franklin Gould is curator of the exhibition The Vision of G.F. Watts, to be held at The Watts Gallery, Surrey. She is editing Watts’s letters and writing a biography of his wife, Mary Seton Watts.

“This year marks the centenary of the death of George Frederic Watts, a wonderful if uneven painter who went into eclipse for most of the 20th century and only in the last decade has been re-emerging. The sole previous biography barely gave him his due. This one is not likely to be bettered. . . . [A] meticulous narrative.”—Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune

“For the time being at least, we can leave the last word on Watts to Veronica Franklin Gould.”—Lynda Nead, Quarterly Magazine

“This is an excellent book, a pleasure to handle as it is to read.”—Simon Poe, The Spectator

“The best available collection of reproductions of Watts’ paintings.”—Julian Treuherz, The Victorian

"A large handsome volume designed for a general audience as well as for scholars, chronicles Watts's life in considerably more detail than any prior account. . . . It also offers the most comprehensive collection of documentary photographs and reproductions of his art."—Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies


ISBN: 9780300105773
Publication Date: December 11, 2004
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
508 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
200 b/w + 40 color illus.