WATTS Magazine Issue 5 Winter 2009 £1
Postman’s Park Watts’s Memorial to ‘Ordinary’ Heroes The Audacity of Hope Watts and Obama Stanford’s Sixth Symphony for G. F. Watts Louis Reid Deuchars at Limnerslease The Pelican Rug by Mary Watts Watts & Greatness Alexander Creswell
Main Contractor for the Watts Gallery Hope Project
Typical contracts by RJ Barwick: Complete refurbishment of a fine country house (private client) and left, the restoration of Augustin Puginâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home (The Landmark Trust).
RJ Barwick is a long established building company, now managed by the seventh generation. Our traditional values and exceptional experience of restoration and refurbishment works enable us to confidently undertake the most challenging heritage contracts, to the highest quality.
We are proud to be working at Watts Gallery. Please e-mail Richard Barwick on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like further information on our services.
Thank You - Watts Gallery is deeply grateful to all its benefactors and major donors:
The Art Fund An Anonymous Donor Billmeir Charitable Trust The Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation Hamish Dewar Ltd Professor Rob Dickins CBE John Ellerman Foundation English Heritage Esmée Fairbairn Foundation The Fenton Arts Trust Fidelity UK Foundation Finnis Scott Foundation Christopher Forbes Foundation for Sport and the Arts The Foyle Foundation Garfield Weston Foundation The Robert Gavron Charitable Trust J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust The Isabel Goldsmith Patino Foundation Guildford Borough Council Peter Harrison Foundation The Derek Hill Foundation The Ingram Trust KPMG Foundation The Geoffrey and Carole Lawson Charitable Trust The Linbury Trust The George John and Sheilah Livanos Charitable Trust Man Group plc Charitable Trust The Michael Marks Charitable Trust The Mercers’ Company The Henry Moore Foundation Richard Ormond CBE The Pilgrim Trust David Pike Rothschild Foundation Wolfson Foundation
New Trustee Photo Blog cover of this issue of Watts and Committee The Magazine is by Anne Purkiss. She has been commissioned to Members photograph the restoration project. Debby Brice, a generous supporter of Watts Gallery through the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, has accepted an invitation to become a Trustee of Watts Gallery. This news was celebrated at a reception generously hosted by Debby Brice at the Guildhall Art Gallery to celebrate the launch of the Watts in the City programme and the publication of John Price’s book Postman’s Park and the republication of G K Chesterton’s book on G F Watts. Teresa Satterthwaite, an artist who has recently opened a commercial Gallery in Godalming selling contemporary art, has agreed to join Watts Gallery’s Collections Committee. Teresa will bring considerable marketing acumen, excellent connections with the world of contemporary art and good local knowledge. Teresa and her husband Christopher Satterthwaite have been supporting the Gallery’s drive to recruit 2010 Friends by 2010.
Follow progress through her images at www.wattsgallery.org.uk
Gallery Events The rich programme of events organised for both Friends and non-Friends alike are now presented in the enclosed events leaflet. You can also view and book tickets for the events at www.wattsgallery.org. uk or call 01483 810235.
Contractor Announced We are pleased to announce that seventh generation family firm, Barwick Construction are the main contractor for the Hope Project at Watts Gallery.
Watts Magazine Issue 5 Watts Gallery, Down Lane Compton, GU3 1DQ 01483 810235 email@example.com www.wattsgallery.org.uk You can now help raise funds every Editor - Andrew Churchill firstname.lastname@example.org time you search the internet. Sign up as a fundraiser at everyclick.com, Advertising - Kim Jenner, Jane Grylls 0207 300 5661 and select Watts Gallery as your Copyright © Watts Gallery nominated charity. Thank you.
Building a Bridge to the Future Perdita Hunt, Director 2009 feels like crossing a bridge between two perilous cliff edges – leaving the solid turf of the Watts Gallery of the past – 105 years old, unchanged but changed, overgrown and hidden, wet and cold – to the other cliff edge, the future – a refurbished Gallery – changed but restored, dry and warm, but needing time to prove the value of the improvements. Spending a year between the two requires a considerable amount of faith and hope! Faith that our contractor and architect, Barwick and Adam Zombory Moldovan will carry the responsibility of our concerns in all that they do, and hope that the improvements and changes take forward G. F. Watts and Mary Watts’s vision in providing art for all and enabling the transformational experience of art and their art in particular to reach more people more of the time. On a more practical note, this year we hope that G. F. Watts: Victorian Visionary will continue to attract many of you through the doors of the Guildhall Art Gallery and at the end of the year to the Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate to enjoy the highlights of the Watts Gallery collection. Well lit, in chronological order and beautifully interpreted and researched in the accompanying book by Mark Bills and Barbara Bryant this exhibition is a must. Parables in Paint is also worth a visit by everyone particularly to enjoy the return of Time, Death and Judgement and Peace and Goodwill to the nave of St Paul’s. The Watts Symposium on 26/27 February will be an opportunity to enjoy these exhibitions in the presence of experts who will discuss the ideas and importance of Watts and his role in the 19th Century. The Watts Lecture, sponsored by the Art Department at Charterhouse, on Wednesday 25 February, will explore the legacy of Watts and ask why his fame declined following his death and the manner in which his legacy has been treated by national institutions such as Tate.
The BBC filming the moving of Physical Energy by G. F. Watts from its old home to it’s new temporary storage ‘the stable’ . Photograph by Anne Purkiss
Gallery Estate will welcome every visitor who would like an update on the progress of the restoration, provide regular showings of the Watts film, and offer our wide range of 19th-century books and stock. With the extraordinary support that so many of you have provided to the Watts Gallery Hope Project which has enabled us to build this bridge from the past, while fearing the fall from this precipitous crossing, we are taking positive strides towards that future, comforted by your encouragement, challenge and shared determination to save Watts Gallery and its collection for future generations. Thank you.
Our Art for All programme will continue to provide workshops in schools, outreach work with young offenders and women prisoners and we shall be taking forward our community arts project in the Park Barn area of Guildford. The Information Point on Watts 5
Collection and Archive News Mark Bills, Curator at Watts Gallery It has been an extraordinarily busy few months for the collection. It feels as if the collection has been sent to the four corners of the earth. Fortunately, this means that there are a number of locations at which visitors can see the Watts Gallery collection whilst Watts Gallery is being restored. It includes an exhibition of over a hundred pieces from the collection at the Guildhall Art Gallery, forty pieces at St Paul’s Cathedral including the installation of Time, Death and Judgement and Peace and Goodwill, Florence Nightingale at the Florence Nightingale Museum and A Surrey Landscape at Godalming Museum. Evolution will travel to the US in January next year to be part of an exhibition, Endless Forms which explores Darwin’s impact upon the visual arts. Victorian Artists in Photographs returns from New York at the end of January before travelling to the Ruskin Library at Lancaster University. Gillian Hardy and Desna Greenhow have been working on the digitisation of the whole archive of over 4,000 photographs from The Rob Dickins Collection which will go online in February next year. The remaining Watts Gallery collection is in storage in Compton and Wiltshire. The most dramatic storage is that of the monumental plaster sculpture which now resides in a giant stable. (See my blog at www.wattsgallery.org.uk).
G. F. Watts’s portrait of Florence Nightingale at the Florence Nightingale Museum, London. Photograph by Anne Purkiss
The Christopher Wood Archive at Watts Gallery Christopher Wood’s name was synonymous with Victorian art. He wrote widely on the subject, including the standard reference dictionary of Victorian painters. As a dealer in paintings, he gained a comprehensive knowledge of his subject and many important works had passed through his hands. The archive and library assembled by Christopher Wood reflects his knowledge and consists of a comprehensive reference library of Victorian art as well as a rich photographic archive of Victorian paintings. Just prior to his death in January 2009 he gave this archive to Watts Gallery.
The holidays are a good time to take stock and think how far the collection has come in the last couple of years and think about the future. One of the questions asked by those who have not been through a great project like this, is what are you going to do when you are closed? Firstly, the Gallery is being restored, something active rather than just closing our doors to the public. Secondly, we are as busy as ever. The re-display Watts Gallery’s eight galleries needs to be prepared for the and a programme of exhibitions needs to be in place. The second phase of conservation needs to begin to prepare all the objects, loans need to be agreed, guides and catalogues prepared. We need to rationalise and prepare the archive for setting up in the newly restored gallery. There is also the current touring exhibitions and we are submitting our application for Accreditation (the museum world’s industry standard) by March this year. A year is not a very long time.
The gift is indicative of Christopher’s generosity and represents a significant addition to the Watts archive and building on other gifts such as The Rob Dickins Collection of historic photographs. As a study centre our resources are becoming increasingly of national importance. The Christopher Wood library addresses all the gaps in our existing library and includes an A-Z of Victorian artist monographs, Victorian picture sales for Christie’s, Sotheby’s and other auction houses, reference works, exhibition catalogues and studies of art of the period. This will be available for use by researchers during restoration and will help enormously our future work. 6
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Touring Exhibitions from Watts Gallery and Watts in the City
Victorian Artists in Photographs: G. F. Watts and his World Selections from The Rob Dickins Collection
The Ruskin Library, Lancaster University 4 April - 28 June 2009
G. F. Watts: Victorian Visionary Guildhall Art Gallery, London 11 November 2008 - 26 April 2009 Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate 14 November 2009 - 21 March 2010
Visit www.wattsgallery.org.uk to find out more about the exhibition programme.
G. F. Watts: Parables in Paint St Paul’s Cathedral, London 1 December 2008 - 30 July 2009 Guildford House Gallery, Guildford 15 August - 12 September 2009 Watts in the Nave St Paul’s Cathedral, London 1 December 2008 - 30 July 2009
The 2009 Watts Symposium - 26/27 February 2009 Guildhall Art Gallery / St. Paul’s Cathedral £75 two days, £40 one day. Concessions incl. Friends of Watts Gallery £55/£35
For full details of all the speakers and their subjects visit the website where you can also book.
s Speaker . Prof include opher t s i r h C Sir Frayling
REMEMBER WHEN YOUR LECTURER GAVE YOU A READING LIST FOR THE HOLI DAYS ? THIS TIME HE’S ACTUALLY COMING WITH YOU.
F YOU look back on your student days with fondness, then you’ll be pleased to find that learning is central to a Martin Randall Travel holiday.
each of our hundred or so experts can be relied upon to enlighten and inspire, not merely to inform.
To begin with, our tours and cruises are led by lecturers who enjoy worldwide reputations in their chosen fields.
Nor are they recruited exclusively from university faculties. You’ll also find conductors, novelists, architects, diplomats and opera producers leading our tours.
But while their academic credentials are impeccable, we think it equally important that they are able to communicate their scholarship with enthusiasm and verve. Accordingly,
And because our holidays are designed for people with enquiring minds, we provide reading lists for most of the itineraries, packed with stimulating suggestions – books,
articles and websites – that aim to broaden your knowledge of a subject before the holiday begins. (Relax: there’s no exam at the end.)
If this sounds like the type of holiday that would appeal to you, why not visit www.martinrandall.com or call 020 8742 3355 to request one of our famous brochures? It could be just the thing if you’ve always wanted to continue your education abroad.
MARTI N RAN DALL TRAvel 9
Watts and the Tate Mark Bills introduces the Watts Lecture 2009 25th Febr uar y Book N ow!
‘Alison Smith is a brilliant speaker who is passionate about Watts and Victorian art and I thoroughly recommend attending.’ Mark Bills, Curator
Alison Smith, one of the foremost of Victorian scholars and curators, is a leading curator at Tate. Her exhibitions of The Victorian Nude and Millais celebrate and explore Victorian art, bringing it to a new audience. Her lecture Egotism and Altruism: Watts and the Tate will discuss the long association of George Frederic Watts and the National Gallery of British Art. When the Tate was established in 1897, Watts was at the height of his fame and one of the most important figures in British art. His donation of works for the spiritual life of the nation offered the artist a national platform as a modern-day prophet with works he felt were “for all time” with a language that was not too didactic, but which made “people think.” His gift was displayed in two small galleries until 1901 when it was moved into one large gallery. As Alison Smith has argued, the Watts rooms helped to define the development of the modern museum: “As a neutral, non-sectarian location, the Watts room at the Tate (as opposed to the commercial space of the exhibition hall or dealer’s gallery), offered a pure, free arena for contemplation and cultural regeneration, anticipating one of the major functions of the modern art museum.”
Alison Smith is a brilliant speaker who is passionate about Watts and Victorian art and I thoroughly recommend this lecture to everyone. Her lecture looks at the Watts bequest in relation to other art legacies, and examines the problem it presented in terms of the conditions it imposed, the on-going relationship between the Tate and the Watts estate, as well as shifts in taste and reputation.
In 1938, after the death of Mary, the Watts room was dismantled and works put into store. Only more recently has the Tate shown Watts in the exhibition The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones & Watts: Symbolism in Britain, 1860–1910, in 1997 and in Alison Smith’s displays at Tate Britain.
The Annual Watts Lecture Egotism and Altruism: Watts and the Tate Alison Smith, Head of British Art to 1900, Tate Britain Wednesday 25 February 2009, 6.30pm Hall, Charterhouse, Godalming Sponsored by the Art Department, Charterhouse 10
Appraising the Response to Victorian Visionary Mark Bills, Curator "Life, the universe and everything. The supremely strange Victorian creator of visionary, allegorical paintings grand, absurd and irresistible." The exhibition G. F. Watts: Victorian Visionary is proving to be a big success in London. This does not surprise me, because its success is due to George Frederic Watts. The Guildhall Art Gallery provides a context where Watts can speak more directly with the viewer. At eye level, lit with gallery lights, the paintings, which have just been conserved, sing as they should. One of the best compliments has been that people who know Watts Gallery have discovered pictures that they never knew we had. The focus has rightly been on the works of art themselves. I believe very much that it is the exhibition curator’s role, to bring out the artist.
Photograph by Anne Purkiss
Tom Lubbock in The Independent
“G. F. Watts, Victorian Visionary relocates Watts to the city and makes a case for him as the most instinctively urban of the main Victorian painters... it reveals a uniquely pessimistic vision for a Victorian artist, close in fin de siecle tremors to Thomas Hardy and, though it does not make Watts our contemporary, it offers intriguing insights into the possibilities and reverberations of religious art in secular times."
The exhibition has already been covered widely by the national press although reading reviews of the exhibition in the twenty-first century is so very different from reading reviews of Watts in the nineteenth century. In his lifetime Watts had a very special place within the art world. He was, as he remains to be, an exception, often difficult, but always interesting. If the painting was difficult, the conclusion was that the problem was with the viewer and not with Watts. One must look further. Today, Watts is seen as a new discovery, a re-birth of a jaded reputation, for in the twentieth century if you had difficulty with Watts it was Watts’s failings and you didn’t bother to look further. It is a great pleasure to read people looking deeper into the art of G. F. Watts. Tom Lubbock in The Independent was critical of Watts, but he did look deeper and found a fascinating artist with enormous vision, Jackie Wullschlager in The Financial Times even if, he believed he very often failed. The Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph saw Watts at his best. This G. F. Watts: Victorian Visionary is at Guildhall Art exhibition exhibits astonishing works, the jewels from Gallery, London until 26 April 2008. Friends of our own collection, carefully conserved and shown Watts Gallery have free entry. www.wattsgallery.org.uk afresh to a new audience for Watts. 11
Photographs by Anne Purkiss
Postman’s Park: Watts’s Memorial to ‘Ordinary’ Heroes John Price Watts Gallery has published a new book, Postman’s Park: G. F. Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. In this extract from the book, the author looks at what the memorial means to us today. In 1972, the Watts memorial was awarded Grade II listed status, which provides considerable protection from development and should ensure that it is maintained for future generations. It also means that there is virtually no possibility of further tablets being added to it, even in the unlikely event of any proposal to do so. Such a proposal is unlikely, not because acts of everyday heroism are any less frequent today than they were in Watts’s time, although perhaps there are now less heroic fatalities as a result of advances in the emergency services. Nor is it unlikely because society has less respect or admiration for acts of heroism, as demonstrated by the many prominent civilian awards and the continued existence of bodies such as the Royal Humane Society and the Carnegie Hero Fund. The primary reason that such a proposal is unlikely is that the public now engage with the Watts memorial as a historic monument, a curiosity from a bygone era locked in the context of its time, and it is this that makes it valuable today. For while the heroic actions of those commemorated are still familiar enough to evoke emotions such as sadness, empathy and admiration, the tablets also generate another reaction, curiosity. The tablet narratives provide just enough information to fascinate, but insufficient to elucidate and, as with many historic monuments, the Watts memorial frequently generates more questions than answers. Many of these are curiosities about the people commemorated; who were they? what sort of life did they lead? and, ultimately, what exactly happened on the day that they died. In this respect, the memorial continues to fulfill one of Watts’ original objectives; it encourages the viewer to seek the person behind the act and to wonder what type of person would undertake it. Furthermore, in contemplating what type of person undertakes a heroic act, viewers come to wonder what type of person erects a monument to those people and this question ultimately leads them
back to Watts. There they find a man with a powerful social conscience, who paternalistically believed in the didactic and improving influence of exemplary individuals and who viewed everyday heroes as ideal examples of good and decent behaviour. Whether or not contemporaries recognised or adopted Watts’s heroes as inspirational exemplars is very difficult to ascertain, although evidence from the Alice Ayres incident suggests that many in society understood and respected those who undertook such acts of heroism. Today, Watts’s moralistic and instructive intentions are even less discernable and arguably have little impact on viewers, yet the monument does still have the power to make people stop and think. Be it wondering what a lighterman did, questioning how and why the incidents happened or even pondering the wider meanings of courage and self-sacrifice, Watts’s memorial stimulates and motivates contemplation far beyond the timber and ceramics of its construction; much as its creator desired. The Watts memorial for heroic self-sacrifice in Postman’s Park has, unquestionably, left behind an important and stimulating legacy. Its narrative recreation and commemoration of heroic actions has remained a fascination for all those who view it; be they visiting for that purpose or simply passing through and enticed in by curiosity. It also serves as a testimony to those who conceived and created it; George and Mary Watts with their passion and vision, William De Morgan with his artistic skill and flair, the memorial committee who drove matters forward and all those who contributed time and money to the funding of the park and the tablets. It is, however, on its simplest level that the monument is at its most touching and evocative; a memorial to sixty-one people, men, women and children, each of whom gave their life in the attempt to save another. They may have led otherwise ordinary lives and their deaths may have been tragic and untimely but, to George Frederic Watts, each of them was a hero and his memorial ensures that they will never be forgotten. Hardback £10, www.wattsgallery.org.uk 13
This page Hope G. F. Watts (private collection) Inset A Jordanian stamp depicting Hope Opposite A button badge promoting Obama
The Audacity of Hope Mark Bills, Curator Hope has inspired many individuals including one of the most powerful men in the world, Barack Obama. Mark Bills discusses this extraordinary painting and its remarkable influence. Hope is one of the most mysterious and arresting paintings from any age - a blindfolded woman astride a globe, plucking at a remaining single string, when all the others have snapped - an image once seen, never forgotten. Whilst its composition is simple and iconic, its atmosphere is heavy with emotive meaning. It was reputedly painted at a moment of anguish, when the daughter of G. F. Watts’s adopted daughter Blanche died. This mood is not entirely absent in the painting and G. K. Chesterton wrote that the first thought on anyone seeing it is that it should be called Despair. But the title given it by the artist suggests something quite different; it suggests optimism. It is, in fact, Hope in Despair. An evocation of the human condition; the ability of people, at their lowest point to sense and feel a strand, a single string of hope that keeps them going, when all around is failing. Can a picture succinctly portray this idea? Is the image too obscure in its symbolism? Generations have been captivated by this enduring image not simply because of its haunting imagery, but the meaning that it clearly suggests. It has inspired many, from leading politicians to the poor and destitute, if any picture has a pedigree of Art for All, Hope does. When he first painted it Watts did not know how it would be received. When it was first publicly exhibited he found “that it was much liked” so he painted another version which is now in the Tate. In later years it was acknowledged by Watts that it was “the one most generally popular”. More remarkable than its popularity was the intense power that it has had in influencing people’s lives. In his own lifetime Watts received testimonials from those deeply effected by the work such as this one recorded by Mary. She records that Watts ‘… received a letter which had moved him profoundly. It was written by a stranger to tell him in the simplest language that in a dark hour of life in a grimy northern
town a photograph of his picture of Hope had attested attention at a moment of extreme crisis. The photograph had been bought with a few remaining shillings, and the message pondered, and so, for one life the whole course of events had changed. The letter concluded with these words: “I do not know you, nor have I ever seen the face of him who gave me my ‘Hope,’ but I thank God for the chance of that day when it came to me in my sore need”. Wilfrid Blunt further records examples of a Holocaust survivor helped by the image and Egyptian troops comforted through receiving a copy of the picture after their defeat in 1967. There is also a suggestion that the image may have been used for strength by Nelson Mandela in his Robben Island cell. More recently and dramatically is the influence that Hope has had on the next President of the United States of America. The painting inspired a lecture by Dr Frederick G. Sampson in Richmond, Virginia, in which he discusses at length Watts’s Hope. This inspired the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who was present at this lecture, to give a powerful sermon in 1990 called The Audacity to Hope. This was attended by the 29-year-old Barack Obama, who at the time was in his second year at Harvard Law School and president of the Harvard Law Review. Here the President first saw Watts’s painting and was deeply inspired by the sermon which provided the title for his second autobiographical book. Obama’s Hope is one rooted in a deep faith in the American Dream, ‘the true genius of America’ he writes is ‘a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence of small miracles’. If Watts had never painted Hope who knows… 15
Affirming the Classical and Universal G. F. Watts and C.V. Stanford’s Sixth Symphony Liam Mac Cóil
George Frederic Watts died on the 1st July 1904. In May and June of the following year, the Irish composer, Charles Villiers Stanford, wrote his Sixth Symphony. He inscribed it “in honour of the lifework of a great artist: George Frederick Watts” and associated with it a number of his pictures: Love and Life, Love and Death, Good luck to your fishing, as well as the sculpture, Physical Energy. Why did Stanford do this?
This progression was no doubt aided by the dichotomies Stanford saw in Watts’s work as exemplified by the pieces mentioned above – juxtaposing Good luck to your fishing with Physical Energy is particularly Stanfordian. Watts’s resolution of dark and light in gold and silver corresponds to Stanford’s use of triumphant major chords and intimations of celestial choirs.
A number of answers come to mind. Watts died at the height of his reputation after a career spanning the whole Victorian era and beyond. He was famous at home and abroad and enjoyed the respect and, in many cases, the affection of his peers. It is not surprising that at least one of his contemporaries in the arts with a similar international standing should be inspired both by his achievement and his personality. Stanford hugely admired Watts’s work we are told by his biographer, Jeremy Dibble, particularly those pictures concerned with didactic allegories.
Watts, however, was not the first artist to receive a posthumous dedication from Stanford. His Requiem, which was premiered in 1897 was dedicated to Frederic Leighton who had died the previous year. It is with the mention of Leighton’s name that we get a little closer to a fuller answer to our question. We begin to draw near the artistic and cultural milieu in which both Stanford and Watts lived and worked. As Jeremy Dibble has pointed out, Leighton was a lover and supporter of music and had a wide circle of artistic friends which included composers such as Stanford, artists such as Watts, and writers such as Robert Browning. After Leighton’s death this circle broke up, but there was still the Atheneum, the club of which both Watts and Stanford were simultaneously members for a short period in the mid 1890s. Nor should we forget the pervasive presence of Tennyson, Watts’s friend and literary counterpart whom Stanford first met in 1879 and with whose work he had a great affinity. Simply put, both artist and composer were part of the same social and artistic community, which was no less creative for being well established, nor less intellectual for being accomplished, and certainly not less passionate for being more gentlemanly than bohemian.
Nor should we forget Stanford’s own creative processes. All his symphonies, apart from the first and the last, are associated in some way with other art forms. Verses from Tennyson’s In Memoriam head the movements of the Second Symphony; a phrase of Goethe’s gives an outline for the Fourth; the Fifth Symphony is based on Milton’s poems L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, with certain musical motifs being linked directly to particular lines of poetry, as Stanford’s other modern biographer, Paul Rodmell, has shown. The Third Symphony is inextricably tied to traditional Irish airs with its third movement relating to the story of Deirdre. Given the vivid scenes conjured in all of these symphonies, Stanford’s adoption of real pictures for the Sixth seems like a natural progression.
Opposite G. F. Watts, Portrait of the Painter (1904), 1904
An aspect of the art of this formidable group was its classicism. Like Leighton, Watts had spent part of his early career in Italy and taken to heart the lessons in draughtsmanship and technique he found in the great masters. For his part, Stanford’s touchstone remained the Classical Romantic tradition exemplified by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. Watts was not an impressionist, no more than was Stanford a colourist. Both were allies in setting before the British public the highest classical standards. This, however, was not the art of the future. In the context of the subsequent development of European art and music, both Stanford and Watts can be viewed more easily as coming at the end of a particular tradition rather than at the begining of a new one. This is not a fashionable place to be. On the contrary, our own perspective, deriving so much from such varied sources as Freudianism, atonality, and conceptual art, seems to limit both artists to their immanent Victorianism rather than liberating their work into the universality to which they themselves felt it belonged - a universality of which art was the supreme expression and which Stanford sought to affirm in his acknowledgment of Watts as a ‘great artist’.
Charles Villiers Stanford, Image - Royal College of Music, London
Liam Mac Cóil has written a book on the Symphonies of Charles Villiers Stanford which is due to be published in Irish in 2009.
Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD
Symphony No. 6 ‘In honour of the life-work of a great artist: G. F. Watts’ Symphony No. 3 ‘Irish’ Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - David Lloyd-Jones Stanford Cover Design.indd 1
Charles Villiers Stanford’s Symphony No. 6 ‘In honour of the life work of a great artist: George Frederick Watts’ is available to buy from Watts Gallery with an exclusive cover featuring a Watts self-portrait. £6.99 www.wattsgallery.org.uk 18
The Big Draw in Partnership with Guildford Cathedral Helen Hienkens-Lewis, Head of Learning
This drawing event for all ages was a great success, with the creation of three versions of The Good Samaritan, with each participant drawing a small section of the painting which was then assembled to make the final piece. There were other drawing activities around the Cathedral, including a large scale group drawing in front of the altar. We would like to thank Guildford Cathedral. To keep in touch with events for families why not join our family e-bulletin, email your name and email address firstname.lastname@example.org 19
above G. F. Watts, Sunset on the Alps, 1888 right G. F. Watts, Endymion, 1903
Louis Reid Deuchars at Limnerslease Louise Boreham photograph of the original terracotta figure together with favourable comment appeared in The Studio, (vol. 24, 1902, p.134). Watts Gallery has a bronze casting and another anonymous statuette of Watts (with his hat in his hands, instead of on his head), which may also be by Deuchars, since there are similarities between the two figures. His statuette of Miss Lily, the adopted daughter of the Wattses has not been traced. Recognising the commercial value of portraits of G. F. Watts, Deuchars painted two in oils. The painting showing ‘Signor’ seated in front of the Della Robbia roundel (National Portrait Gallery) is based on the photograph of Watts taken by George Andrews (on the cover of Victorian Artists in Photographs: The World of G F Watts. Selections from The Rob Dickins Collection), catalogue of the recent exhibition at Watts Gallery) and published in The Studio in 1895 (p.32). This painting and three versions of the Watts bronze statuette are the only works by Deuchars in public galleries. The other oil shows a large expanse of the garden at Limnerslease with Watts sitting by the Compton Pottery sundial in “I lie awake 2 hours, & think out the weaker points in the chapel book, I see that it fails most in the illustrations of the text the centre. It too is based on a photograph, taken by Mrs Watts’s brother, A. Fraser Tytler, and published – Deuchars drawings are maps, not sketches of the detail, & therefore thoroughly uninteresting. Signor says he has yet to learn in the biography of G. F. Watts by Hugh Macmillian. that however much force you may use, it will be nothing unless it Deuchars’s portrait of George Thomson was well received produces the impression of form – mere strength of line does not when shown at the Society of Portrait Painters 1901 exhibition, but it has disappeared, as have several give this – “What you want is not form but the impression of landscapes in oil, although Gail recently pointed out form”. that The Pilgrim’s Way – Surrey was still in Limnerslease Nevertheless the drawings by Deuchar remained in the when the contents were sold in March 1939 after Mrs book, although there is an obvious difference between Watts died. When exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899, The Scotsman commented that the painting was them and those of Mary Watts, more to the liking of ‘a well-considered and carefully-executed study of a wood under a her husband. Deuchars’s drawing of the chapel altar blue moonlight effect’. was reproduced in The Studio in vol.17, 1899 (p.103). Deciphering Mrs Watts’s spidery handwriting is difficult but well worth the effort. Unfortunately, there are gaps On 29 May 1898, Mrs Watts wrote, ‘What do I see before me? The whole of the interior of the in the series of her diaries; several years of interest to chapel! The whole of my terra cotta to be kept going summer me are missing. She was delighted when a wax model & winter, never letting the standard of design drop – raising it by Deuchars of Robbie Burns was accepted by the raising, using the material to the utmost.’ New Gallery after she sent it with George Thomson to London in March 1898, but there is no record of Since Deuchars did not leave Limnerslease until what she thought of Deuchars’s statuette of Watts December 1899, it would appear that he also helped (several versions were cast and exhibited following with the painted gesso interior. The work was not its first showing at the Fine Arts Society in 1902). A My grandfather, Louis Reid Deuchars (1870–1927), an artist and sculptor, was born in Comrie, Perthshire. My research into his life and work began with family recollections, some tattered cuttings and a shabby photograph album. They led me to the Watts Gallery and its friendly staff. Most of the old photographs were probably taken by George Andrews when my grandfather was at Compton (1895-1899). Andrew Deuchars, father of Louis, wrote about Comrie affairs in The Strathearn Herald. Under An Interesting Chapel, I read, ‘Much of the decorative work has been executed by and under the direction of Mr Louis R. Deuchars…’ I felt this might have been an idle boast about his son’s role, but last year, looking at Mrs Watts’s diaries with the help of Gail Naughton, I found an entry for Wednesday 11 November 1896 stating, ‘Mr Deuchars started class working enlarging and drawing out the Veil from my design - he can help me much.’ However, a later entry (3 December 1898) expressed concern:
Left - A photograph of Deuchars’s portrait of George Thomson.
complete when The Strathearn Herald reported that ‘Mr Louis R. Deuchars…proceeds to Florence on Monday, to study under several of the Italian masters’, although he actually accompanied Watts’s entry to the competition organised ‘by Cav. Vittorio Alinari, the well-known photographer, in March 1900. The subject set ... was Madonna with the Holy Infant, or Mother and Child, Alinari stipulating for the exclusive right of reproducing the picture to which the prize should be awarded’ (‘Studio Talk’, The Studio, vol.21, 1901, p.60). Deuchars also entered a composition, but neither he nor Watts won the prize. Deuchars’s Italian journey resulted in a number of landscapes and was also the inspiration for future sculptures. All his early exhibited work was sent from Limnerslease, but in 1901 there began a series of entries from Dores, Inverness. So why did Deuchars leave Compton to head back to his homeland?
artist. Hubert Herkomer had offered to take her into one of his classes at Bushy, although she declined very firmly. He did not want Deuchars, ‘I won’t have him – he is not plastic enough – won’t have him at any price…You are ruining him here, he will never do any thing with art - he is not plastic enough - & he is too old. I don’t mean in years – he has never been young. I explained the history of his being here, but of no avail!’ Oh to know what she meant by the last sentence! Around the turn of the century Deuchars went to run the Aldourie Pottery where the wares were the same as those produced at Compton, but the Highland offshoot probably only survived for five or six years at most. In 1904 Dorothy married Captain George Macpherson-Grant of the Cameron Highlanders. Deuchars went on to pursue his career as a sculptor.
When Mrs Watts sent him to Aldourie (her childhood home), she also separated him from Dorothy MacCallum, her niece. Deuchars had four photographs of Dorothy in his album and also preserved a little oil sketch of tulips with the inscription ‘from your little friend Dorothy’ handwritten on the reverse. These mementos point to a friendship at least. According to Mrs Watts’s diary entries (1896), Dorothy was a talented
Could there be a forgotten cache of Mrs Watts’s diaries still to be found? What gems there might be in those missing volumes! © Louise Boreham, October 2008 I am most grateful to the Trustees of Watts Galley for permission to quote from Mrs Watts’s diaries.
Deuchars energetically wielding a scythe on rough grass, possibly helping to clear the ground for the garden around the barn where Watts worked on the colossal figure of Tennyson, assisted by Deuchars.
A Week to Remember - A Watts Visit to New York Evie Soames
The timing of the visit from Watts Gallery to New York to attend the private view of The Rob Dickins Collection at The Forbes Galleries, was close to perfection. It was unforgettable to be in the US on the day that Barack Obama won the presidential election. The party arrived in the afternoon of election day and immediately set off down-town to visit Christie’s on 59th Street in the throes of their post-war and contemporary as well as important impressionist sales. By the time we emerged election excitement was mounting and the Rockefeller Plaza was all lit up in red and blue with giant TV screens, number boards ready to tot up the votes as they came in (above, Richard Ormond, Chairman of the Trustees). The atmosphere was electric, even by NY mid-town standard. At the opening of the photographic exhibition Rob Dickins explained how these photographs of famous Victorians (above right) had appealed to him and complemented his day job of managing some of the most famous 20th-century musicians. The selection of photographs looked splendid in their new setting and a good crowd attended the opening. The evening was completed by a generous dinner given by Margaret and Greg Hedberg. We were charmed by their fascinating house on East 69th Street full of interesting pictures, sculpture and furniture. The following day Prof. Allen Staley’s charming apartment on Central Park West offered a remarkable collection of Victorian pictures. On Friday morning, Warren Adelson, at his gallery on East 82nd Street, gave us a tour of some of the major items in the collection after which Kip Forbes invited
us to lunch at his town house, situated at the back of the publishing building, one of the very few remaining original houses built down town off 5th Avenue in the 1850s. Later we were off to a fascinating lecture by Sam White about the iconic architecture of his grand father Stanford White in The Players at Gramercy Park – an interesting Victorian building, smaller but reminiscent of both the Reform and Garrick Clubs. Saturday morning found us at the Met and Richard Ormond’s descriptions and insights into many of the later 19th-century pictures in the museum was a highlight. Who better to explain so many of the details of the Sargent portraits, including Madam X, Consuela Vanderbilt and the Wyndham sisters, than his great nephew? Our final outing, very kindly organised by 19th century expert Peter Trippi, was a walking tour of three private collections on the Upper East Side. The first apartment belonged to Lee Edwards and Michael Crane and we were shown their collection of Hubert von Herkomer paintings and others by JW North, Walker and Pinwell. The next stop was the Conner Rosenkranz Gallery and a very interesting tour d’horizon of American sculpture alongside some museum class items. Then to Laura and David Grey with their superb collection of 19thcentury American landscape paintings. Undoubtedly this was an historic week in American political history but also one that many of the friends of the Watts Gallery will remember for a very long time. 23
The Pelican Rug by Mary Watts Adam Gilchrist, Veedon Fleece
On Thursday the 20th of October 1988 Phillips Son and Neale held an auction of Decorative Arts in their Mayfair saleroom. Lot 310 illustrated in the catalogue was described as a Donegal woollen rug made by Alexander Morton and Company, possibly designed by Archibald Knox and carrying a printed pre-sale estimate of £1,000-£1,500. Some of us knew better; this was a rarely available to the market Mary Watts Pelican rug.
Founding the Veedon Fleece looms in the then Kingdom of Nepal, I managed to inspire a willing workforce to create almost any design and also managed to source excellent quality wool, dyes and with a lot of help, really everything needed to start to build the ethical and high quality bespoke company that Veedon Fleece is renowned for today, constantly striving for new levels of excellence.
By 1999 Veedon Fleece was well established and I realised that I was in a position to recreate a Mary Watts Pelican rug and do it well. Veedon Fleece had already recreated some ‘Donegal’ designs by Mr Voysey and also some elaborate William Morris designed carpets, each on a one off basis and enthusiastically received by the patrons who had commissioned them. I always had the feeling that the colours of the As fortune would have it some six years later I founded “Phillips” rug had been washed out or artificially faded Veedon Fleece Ltd. with the goal of reviving high by time (some of the dyes used then were not totally quality, hand knotted carpet weaving on an ethical colour fast). Working initially with my own intuition, basis and without the use of child labour. In the late I strengthened the green and blue tones to what I 1980s early 1990s carpets seemed to be being produced had felt the original would have been and excitedly by hand just to the lowest cost price and accordingly, sent the design and colour reference to my looms in qualities on the whole had dropped and some pretty Kathmandu. Within one month the point papers were unpleasant practices were being undertaken on the drawn by hand and colours skilfully blended. Another grounds of economy. three months went by and the magnificent and slightly Regrettably, I failed to purchase this wonderful representation of Mary Watts’s work, which was frustrating because as a long time visitor to the Gallery and Watts Cemetery Chapel in Compton, I felt it a shame that an original was not on display amongst the core collection.
complex design had been completed by our two best weavers. After a further period of final finishing, the re created Pelican rug was booked on a plane to the UK and I was delighted to donate it to the gallery. Just over a decade past the sale at Philips and to my absolute delight, Richard Jefferies unearthed an original Mary Watts painted cartoon section as originally envisaged and amazingly, my re-colouring of the washed out Phillips rug was pretty accurate.
Veedon Fleece are well known and respected within the industry for weaving high quality hand knotted carpets in many different luxury materials - pashmina, silk, veedon and best Tibetan wool. The first Veedon Fleece Mary Watts Pelican Rug was woven using best Tibetan wool and a current retail price would be £1,979 inclusive of vat and delivery anywhere in the UK.
The Veedon Fleece Pelican Rug has now been on display at the gallery for almost a decade and I am delighted that it is now going to have the opportunity to raise funds for the on going sustenance of the Watts Gallery.
Veedon Fleece are donating a large Pelican carpet to grace the floor of the new Archive Study Room and, of course, will be delighted to quote for any special requests for carpets of other sizes (and designs). For any retail commission that comes through the Watts Gallery, Veedon Fleece will donate 20% to the Watts Gallery Fund.
The idea is that Veedon Fleece will be delighted to produce more Pelican rugs to order and a 20% donation of the sale price from each rug will be deposited with the Gallery from Veedon Fleece’s funds. As a custom weaving house the good news is that almost any size carpet can be made upon request and we are delighted to offer a 20% built in contribution of part of the retail sale price from any carpet order specified from the Gallery
The standard size of a Mary Watts Pelican Rug recreation, hand made by Veedon Fleece on their exclusive looms is 8’3” by 4’1” (approx. 253cm by 123cm). A variance of 1”-2” either way is to be expected, as each rug is made by hand. Lead time is approximately 12-16 weeks from placement of order (unless we are lucky enough to have one in stock). Call Andrew Churchill at Watts Gallery on 01483 813584 to find out more. www.veedonfleece.com
Left A recreation of a Mary Watts Pelican Rug by Veedon Fleece Right An original study for the Pelican rug by Mary Watts, Watts Gallery Collection
Watts & Greatness Alexander Creswell - An Artist’s Perspective ©Alexander Creswell 2006
Alexander Creswell (born 1957) is an internationally acclaimed artist, best known for the large set of watercolours he painted of Windsor Castle for the Royal Collection depicting the fire and restoration in 1993 & 1997. He lives in a house designed by Christopher Hatton Turner, the architect of Watts Gallery. Alexander Creswell, The Roman Forum and the Arch of Septimius Severus, watercolour on paper, 60 x 108 inches
In Watts’s obituary G. K. Chesterton laments the passing of great men and rails against the degradation of his age. It is not that we no longer produce great men, he says, but that we are always looking for them. A great pyramid of a man, he thunders “We shall not have great men again until we have something better to think about than greatness.” The same could be said today if we were to introduce the words ‘celebrity’, or ‘greed’ or ‘sensationalism’ in place of the Victorian concept of greatness? What would Chesterton make of the purulent state of culture today with its vacuous bubble of contemporary art, parades of inept public sculpture and acres of egotistic illiteracy masquerading as architecture? He would doubtless be apoplectic to see that civilisation had largely become the heroic myth which he had foretold in that obituary. A century on, the restoration of Watts Gallery has begun and a new attitude is stirring: the old Gallery remembered Watts as the bookend retaining the last tomes of Victorian confidence but the new Gallery should instead be seen as the springing point from which his ideals and disciplines can leap clear across the cultural turmoil of twentieth century and land in the fertile ground of the new generation. There are those of us who believe that much of what had been discarded in the last century are the vital ingredients
needed to build the cultural platform of the future - namely beauty, integrity, skill, history, literacy and moral armature. These were all revered by Watts and all banished within a generation of his death. They are not concepts to be dusted off and put in glass cases as the sediment of history, but life-skills of the future, the building blocks of our civilisation which are desperately needed right now. The exile is over. There is a growing urge for change with support in many quarters. Watts’s name is already associated: his painting Hope has actively provided inspiration to the new US president in his path to the White House. Similarly Mammon might stand as a caveat for the route out of the credit crunch. Watts’s message can be spread from the restored Gallery not as a mere museum but as a nucleus for the study and renewal of those formerly unfashionable beliefs, as a source of confidence for those who find themselves in the wilderness, as a place of study of drawing, painting and sculpture, as a Gallery where the very best of living art can be shown. With strength, optimism and conviction - all of which played high in Watts’s personal fabric - Watts Gallery will be a place of change, part of a global network of renewal. If so, maybe a little greatness will seep back into civilisation, and G. K. Chesterton might rest more peacefully. 26
wo r k s h o p s
c o n s u lta n c y
katkin pringle Private view on 12th February 12 th February - 7 th March
AVAILABLE NOW: One day art or craft workshops at Drella Gallery throughout February. 1 1 9 h i g h s t r e e t | g o da l m i n g | s u r r e y | g u 7 1 a q t 01 483 239813 m 0 7 9 0 0 8 8 7 0 2 1 e t e re s a @ d re l l ag a l l e r y. c o. u k w w w w. d re l l ag a l l e r y. c o. u k