Thursday, May 3, 2012

Watts, George Frederick

oil on canvas
65 x 52 cm
Private Collection

"I paint ideas, not things. I paint primarily because I have something to say, and since the gift of eloquent language has been denied to me, I use painting; my intention is not so much to paint pictures which shall please the eye, as to suggest great thoughts which shall speak to the
imagination and to the heart and arouse all that is best and noblest in humanity." (Watts)

The painting represents the shepherd Endymion who was loved by the moon. The classical subject is given a strong and sculptural treatment in which both the nude male figure and the draperies of the moon goddess derive from the Elgin Marbles.

George Frederic Watts (1817 - 1904), born in London, the son of a piano maker, was a popular English Victorian painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement. Watts became famous in his lifetime for his allegorical works.
He was a modest, hard-working artist who twice refused a baronetcy offered by Queen Victoria and other honours, including an offer to become president of the Royal Academy, although he did accept the Order of Merit, in his own words on behalf of all English artists.
Many of his paintings are held at the Tate Gallery - he donated 21 of his symbolic paintings to the Tate Gallery.