- Extended Catalogue Entry
by George Frederic Watts
oil on canvas, circa 1864-1865
24 1/8 in. x 23 7/8 in. (612 mm x 608 mm) overall
Artistback to top
- George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Painter and sculptor. Artist associated with 91 portraits, Sitter in 43 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Watts married his first wife, the actress Ellen Terry, in 1864 when she was seventeen. The artist was thirty years older than his wife, and later wrote that he had hoped to ‘influence, guide and cultivate a very artistic and peculiar nature and to remove an impulsive young girl from the dangers and temptations of the stage’. Terry inspired Watts’s painting, but the marriage broke down within a year. The pair reconciled as friends in the 1880s and Watts sent Terry this portrait, which he had made during their marriage. It remained in her possession until her death.
Linked publicationsback to top
- 100 Pioneering Women, p. 69
- Bryant, Barbara, G.F. Watts: Portraits, Fame & Beauty in Victorian Society, 2004 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 14 October 2004 to 9 January 2005), p. 138
- Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 200
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 609
- Truss, Lynn, Tennyson and his Circle, 2015, p. 82
- Truss, Lynne, Character Sketches: Tennyson and His Circle, 1999, p. 44
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- G.F. Watts: Portraits - Fame & Beauty in Victorian Society (14 October 2004 - 9 January 2005)
Events of 1864back to top
Current affairsFirst of the Contagious Diseases Act. These acts allowed for the arrest, medical inspection and confinement of any woman suspected of being a prostitute in the port towns. Following huge public outcry over their discrimination against women, notably led by Josephine Butler, leader of the Ladies' National Association, the acts were eventually repealed.
Octavia Hill starts work on slums, and the International Working Men's Association is founded in London.
Art and scienceThe Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell presents his discoveries in the field of electromagnetics to the Royal Society. His paper A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field expresses the basic laws of electricity and magnetism in unified fashion. Maxwell's equations, as his rules came to be known, helped create modern physics, laying the foundation for future work in special relativity and quantum mechanics.
InternationalAustria and Prussia combine forces to seize Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark.
Britain cedes Corfu, acquired from France in the Second Treaty of Paris (1815) to Greece. Although Britain had vigorously suppressed an uprising in 1849 in Cephalonia aiming to restore Iolian islands, the government changed policy throughout the 1850s and 60s.
- Shakespeare: Stage and Screen
- The Watts Collection
- 2017 Anniversaries
- Room 26: Portraits by G.F. Watts
- Only Connect - installation video
- Only Connect
- Room 25: Women, politics and domestic life in Victorian Britain
- Rebel women
- Room 26: G.F. Watts Bicentenary
- Princes of Victorian Bohemia: Photographs by David Wilkie Wynfield
- Julia Margaret Cameron: 'Poets, prophets, painters and lovely maidens'