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George Frederic Watts
At his death in 1904, George Frederic Watts was the most celebrated artist in Britain. An acclaimed portraitist, a distinguished history painter, the creator of powerful, massive sculptures, and a mystical, symbolist visionary, Watts was hailed as “England’s Michelangelo”. Yet in the twentieth century his critical reputation fell away, and his bold, often brilliant work is only now being rediscovered.
Produced alongside centenary exhibitions at Tate and the National Portrait Gallery, this film explores the artist’s works and remarkable life. Some of his most striking portraits are of the dazzling actress Ellen Terry, to whom the middle-aged Watts was briefly married when she was 17.
Curators Alison Smith and Barbara Bryant and biographer Veronica Franklin Gould discuss the beauty and diversity of Watts’ work, and the challenges it can pose for viewers today. The film also visits, with curator Richard Jefferies, the charmingly eccentric Watts Gallery at Compton in the Surrey countryside, which is the first purpose-built museum in Britain dedicated to the work of a single artist.