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

Composition sketch

Details
George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
Composition sketch
oil on panel
16½ x 9½ in. (41.9 x 24.1 cm.)
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Sale Room Notice
This oil sketch is most probably a design for Watts's inspirational project, The House of Life. On his return from Italy in 1847, Watts intended to paint a series of frescoes dealing with subjects such as love, life and death which would be given to the public to uplift their souls. The grand project was never completed but the present oil sketch can be compared to one of the completed designs, The Court of Death, in which the Angel of Death sits atop a pedestal, surrounded by the figures who gather in the foreground.

Lot Essay

Watts made numerous experimental studies for his paintings and often reworked the final pieces for years after their creation. The present oil sketch appears to amalgamate a selection of his visual conceptions. The bright sun relates to Progess and the upwardly thrusting figures to The Creation of Eve and The Recording Angel. The hunched figure in the left foreground and the armoured figure in the right reappear in The Court of Death. This work is testament to Watts's working method of continually developing his designs and compositions.
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