William Morris

1 portrait

William Morris, by George Frederic Watts, 1870 - NPG 1078 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

William Morris

by George Frederic Watts
oil on canvas, 1870
25 1/2 in. x 20 1/2 in. (648 mm x 521 mm)
Given by George Frederic Watts, 1897
Primary Collection
NPG 1078


Click on the links below to find out more:

Sitterback to top

  • William Morris (1834-1896), Poet, craftsman and socialist. Sitter in 67 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Painter and sculptor. Artist associated with 90 portraits, Sitter in 43 portraits.

This portraitback to top

On 15 April 1870 William Morris wrote to his wife Janey (who at the time was having an affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti), 'I am going to sit to Watts this afternoon, though I have got a devil of a cold-in-the-head, which don't make it very suitable.' Perhaps a combination of the cold and his depression at the failure of his marriage accounts for the slightly rheumy look of his portrait. According to Mrs Watts, it was painted at a single sitting, although it is possible that Watts may have done more work on it when it was exhibited in 1880. Otherwise, there is singlularly little contemporary comment on it, apart from a later and well judged remark by G.K. Chesterton that 'There is something appropriate in the way in which the living, leonine head projects from a background of green and silver decoration. This immersion of a singularly full-blooded and aggressive man in the minutiae of aesthetics was a paradox that attracted men to Morris.'

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Tell us moreback to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, something missing, or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have any information to share please complete the form below

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your nameclose

If you tick permission to publish your name will appear above your contribution on our website.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.