George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
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George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)

Head study of Henry Wyndham Phillips (1801-1876), bust-length

George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
Head study of Henry Wyndham Phillips (1801-1876), bust-length
black chalk on paper
23 ¾ x 19 ¾ in. (60.3 x 50.2 cm. )
Anonymous sale; Phillips, London, 2 November 1987, lot 147.
with Spink, London, where purchased by the present owners.
B. Bryant, G.F. Watts, Fame and Beauty in Victorian Society, London, 2004, p. 88
Special notice

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Sale room notice
Please note that the Watts Gallery have requested to loan this drawing for their forthcoming exhibition, Brothers in Art: Drawings by Watts and Leighton, 17 November 2015 - 19 February 2016.

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Clare Keiller

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Lot Essay

This lively chalk drawing of Watts’ good friend Henry Phillips is a study for the oil portrait now in the collection of the Viscount Allendale (fig. 1). Phillips, the son of the highly successful portraitist Thomas Phillips, R.A. (1770-1845), was also an established artist, and although he never achieved the same success as Watts, they worked alongside each other. The friendship of the two men is evident here in the close, relaxed pose of the sitter, seemingly unaware of the artist, and the sensitive rendering of the features. It seems likely that it was drawn around 1852, when Phillips took over Watts’ Charles Street studio and the two men became founding members of the Cosmopolitan Club, later based in that same studio. The drawing is characteristic of Watts’ work of the early 1850s, with Phillips depicted as clean-shaven and fairly young, in contrast to all other known portraits of him, in which he is older and considerably more hirsute. In the finished painting, Phillips’ trade is clearly indicated by the tools on the baize table and the sculpture looming behind, here the only indication is the somewhat bohemian air given by his loosely tied neck-scarf.

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