Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Frederick W. Watts (England, 1817-1904)

Figure 1.-- George Frederick Watts, painted this work early in his career, probably in the 1840s. We are not sure that it is a portrait with contemporary clothing, but may instead be a detail intended for one of his allegories. It is in the collection sof the Watts Gallery in Compton, Surrey.

Frederick W. Watts (England, 1817-1904): George Frederick Watts was a major English artist during the Victorian era. Watts knew most of the Pre-Raphaelites, and was an important influence on the younger ones. He can not be easily clasified as part of any School or group. He struck on his own and is especially known for main allegorical pictures of consideranle note. He also painted many portraits providing us a few glimpses of clothing styles including boys' clothing.


We have no information on George's childhood or the clothes he wore as a boy.


No information avaialble on George's eduaction at this time.


Ther first painting by Watts that is noted is a poweful allegofy, Caratacus Led in Triumph through the Streets of Rome. It won a prizxe and was exhibited at Westminster Hall in 1842. Some of his more important later paintings are Among his many important later paintings are Hope, Time, Death and Judgement and The Minotaur. Watts also worked as a sculptor and this is reflected in some of his paintings. He occasionally worked as a illustrator including some biblical drawings and some imaginative cricket drawings which were reproduced in the English Illustrated Magazine in the 1890s.

Watts appeas to have had independent income. He donated or gave away many works. One particularly beautiful painting was sent to one of America's first international exhibition, the Chicago exhibition of 1893. Watts then donated it to the American nation as his contribution to a permanent gallery. The painting was accepted by Special Act of Congress, but at least initially not allowed in the White House because it was considered to grahic by prudish officials.


Watts became a leading portraitist, paiting many of the worthies of the time. I do not know, however, just who the boy in the painting here is. The painting here may have been a detail used for one of his allegories, rather than an actual portrait.


Watts works are mostly available in English gallaries. His works can be seen in many important British galleries. The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool has an especially good collection. They have the Riders on Horses series, Love and Life and others in that series, Ariadne in Naxos and various sketches. The Lady Lever Gallery has And She Shall be Created Woman. The Tate Gallery has a small version of Where Eve Tempted and Hope as well as Clytie and Love Triumphant. The Leicester Art Gallery has Fata Morgana. The The Aberdeen Art Gallery has a version of Eve Tempted and Orpheus and Eurydice. Some of Watts paintings can be seen in the Victoria and Albert and the British National Portrait Gallery. A few Watts's paintings can be found in other countries, primarily due to gifts by the artist. The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa has Time, Death and Judgement.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: October 18, 2001
Last updated: October 18, 2001