Watts (1817-1904) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 34 pages of information about Watts (1817-1904).
It might be said as a final estimate that the value and sincerity of Watts’ work becomes intensified a hundred-fold when we remember that its grandeur and dignity, its unity and its calm, was the work of a man who seldom, if ever, attained internal peace.  Like some who speak wiser than they know, so Watts gave himself as an instrument to inspirations of which he was not able, through adverse circumstances, to make full use.  Thus was the Man divided from the Messenger.

[Illustration:  Plate V.—­Love and life

(At the Tate Gallery)

Love, strong in his immortal youth, leads Life, a slight female figure, along the steep uphill path; with his broad wings he shelters her, that the winds of heaven may not visit her too roughly.  Violets spring where Love has trod, and as they ascend to the mountain top the air becomes more and more golden.  The implication is that, without the aid of Divine Love, fragile Human Life could not have power to ascend the steep path upward.  First exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1885.  Companion picture to “Love and Death,” and “Love Triumphant.”]

III

A REVIEW OF WATTS’ WORK

Failing the “Progress of the Cosmos,” we have from the mind and brush of Watts a great number of paintings, which may be grouped according to their character.  Such divisions must not be regarded as rigid or official, for often enough a picture may belong to several groups at the same time.  For the purpose of our survey, however, we divide them as follows: 

1.  Monumental or Historical Paintings and Frescoes. 2.  Humanitarian or Social Paintings. 3.  Portraits, private and public. 4.  Biblical Paintings. 5.  Mythical Paintings. 6.  “Pessimistic” Paintings. 7.  The Great Realities. 8.  The Love Series. 9.  The Death Series. 10.  Landscapes. 11.  Unclassified Paintings. 12.  Paintings of Warriors.

“Caractacus” was the first of the monumental paintings; by them Watts appears as a citizen and a patriot, whose insular enthusiasm extends backward to the time when the British chief Caractacus fought and was subdued by the Romans.  He enters also into the spirit of the resistance offered to the Danes by King Alfred.  George and the Dragon are included by him in the historical though mythical events of our race.  Undoubtedly the most remarkable of Watts’ monumental paintings is the fresco entitled “Justice; a Hemicycle of Lawgivers,” painted for the Benchers’ Hall in Lincoln’s Inn.  It is 45 x 40 feet.  Here Watts, taking the conventional and theoretical attitude, identifies law-making with justice, and in his fresco we see thirty-three figures, representing Moses, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Confucius, Lycurgus and his fellow-Greeks, Numa Pompilius and other Romans.  Here figures also Justinian, the maker of the great Code; Mahomet, King Alfred, and even Attila the Hun.  The painting represents

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Watts (1817-1904) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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