NPG 2893 (1a)

Typed copy of a letter from G.F. Watts to Mrs Henrietta Octavia Barnett, dated 15 March 1888, explaining why he wishes to postpone displaying his portrait of her husband, Samuel Augustus Barnett.

March 15. 1888.
Villa Baron,

My dear Mrs Barnett,
Mrs Barrington writes to me to ask what is to be done about exhibiting the head I painted of Mr Barnett! I remember upon talking the matter over with my wife that she has already been in communication with you on the subject so perhaps no words from me are needed. I have always a very great objection to exhibiting at all, just now the objection is increased, for reasons of my own I particularly desire to send only one picture to the Royal Academy, "Dawn" is to go there. I do not wish to send to the Grosvenor, in fact would much rather not for although I do not in the least degree identify myself with personal misunderstandings I will not seem to identify myself with anything that seeks to make art a question of cent per cent (unduly) I am not and cannot be satisfied with [the] direction the question regarding the government of the Grosvenor Gallery has taken. I have sacrificed not a little myself of the World's goods in the endeavour to keep art and mere commerce (a good thing in its place) separate and for the sake of principle I think I have a right to be a little fastidious. I would say send the picture to the New Gallery, but I placed, before I left England a picture at the disposal of Mr Burne Jones (before there was any question of a New Gallery) and as I would desire to avoid identifying myself with one side, I desire to avoid identifying myself with the other unless I see it carrying out principles which I shall feel myself called upon strongly to endorse my duty to Art. You will see that I wish to send for exhibition only the two works engaged and should feel obliged if you would let your picture stand over till next year.

It is most good of you to take Mr Schott into your charge I think you will find the payment good actions should receive and I do receive oftener than people believe. I hope things go pleasantly with you and that we shall find you and Mr Barnett flourishing (in about two months).

Yours very sincerely,


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