Saturday, February 25, 2012

Watts, George Frederic

oil on canvas
142.2 cm × 111.8 cm (56.0 in × 44.0 in)
Tate Gallery, London, Britain

In the Bible, hope is 'an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enter into that within the veil.' Watts explained that 'Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music which can come from the remaining chord'.

Two versions were painted in 1886.  Private collection (first) and Tate (second) version. Watts himself preferred the Tate, softer, version. It omits the star - a symbol of optimism - that appears at the top of the first version.

George Frederic Watts (1817 – 1904) was a popular Victorian English painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement. Watts became famous in his lifetime for his allegorical works, such as Hope  and Love and Life. These paintings were intended to form part of an epic symbolic cycle called the "House of Life", in which the emotions and aspirations of life would all be represented in a universal symbolic language.  He painted for no gain save the reward of achievement when he felt he had a message to deliver through his pictures. To his purposes he deliberately sacrificed his natural dexterity and technique, holding that the artist should be lost in his picture. Nevertheless, the power of color which is exhibited in "Hope" is one of the most marked qualities of his work. The whole is a delicate harmony in blues and greens, and is suggestive of the Italian influence which so strongly affected the painter.