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Western art

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George Frederic Watts


23 Feb 1817 - 01 Jul 1904


From 1843 to 1847 George Watts lived in Italy, studying firsthand the monu-mental masterpieces of the Renaissance, most notably Michelangelo, Tintoretto and the Venetian colourists. He sought to achieve in his work a marriage of sculptural solidity and painterly warmth. Both a painter and sculptor, he regarded artistic ambidexterity as a duty. Many of the allegorical paintings Watts produced are bombastic in scale and abstruse in meaning. Nonetheless, his Victorian public welcomed these often clumsy conceptions as faultless expressions of genius, going so far as to accord him the title of the English Michelangelo. Watts portrayed most of the men and women of culture of his day, amassing a virtual anthology of English society. The ravishing 'Alice' shows him at his understated best. The sitter has been captured in a state of reverie undisturbed by interruptions from the outside world, and spared the histrionic excesses more characteristic of this painter's style.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


67.0 x 53.4 cm stretcher; 98.2 x 85.8 x 6.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l., red oil "G.F. Watts". Not dated.


Gift of the Executors of the Estate of the late G.F. Watts 1907

Accession number


Artist information

George Frederic Watts

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history


George Frederic Watts, England, Gift of the Executors of the Estate of the late G.F. Watts 1907

Referenced in 5 publications


Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 206 (illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 42 (colour illus.).

Anne Kirker and Peter Tomory, British painting 1800–1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 176. 2264

Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle- Upon-Tyne, Catalogue of the special loan collection of works by the late G. F. Watts, R.A., O.M., 1905.

Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts, Watts memorial exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy, 1906.