8 of 92 portraits by George Frederic Watts
- Extended catalogue entry
Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue
by George Frederic Watts
19 3/4 in. x 12 5/8 in. (502 mm x 321 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
Inscribed on a label formerly on the back of the backboard: To our executors/After our death we have/promised that this drawing/by Watts of James Spedding/shall be given to the National Portrait/Gallery - S F and Isabel Spedding
This portraitback to top
In a letter of 15 July 1908 (NPG archives), Miss Sarah Spedding wrote:
'This one is merely a head - face ¾ profile - it is an admirable likeness and a singularly fine drawing - and its history is as follows. Mr Watts begged my uncle to let him 'have his head or face' for one of the philosophers in the large fresco in Lincolns Inn Hall - where the result can be seen. The drawing which he made as a study for the picture he gave to the late Mrs Charles Hoy Cameron - a common friend - she left it to Sir Henry Taylor expressing a wish that after his death it should be ours. He sent it to me himself not long before his death.'
This letter was prompted by the offer to the NPG of a drawing of Spedding by Watts from the collection of Mrs Catherine Donne; this drawing turned out to be a reproduction of NPG 2059, and is now in the NPG archives. In a second letter of 5 August 1908 (NPG archives), Miss Sarah Spedding promised to leave her drawing to the NPG. The Lincolns Inn fresco was begun in 1853 and completed in 1859.
Referenceback to top
[Mrs] M. S. Watts, George Frederic Watts (1912), I, 114.
Provenanceback to top
The artist; Mrs Charles Cameron; Sir Henry Taylor; the Misses Sarah and Isabel Spedding (the sitter's nieces), presented by Isabel Spedding, 1924.
Exhibitionsback to top
VE, 1892 (392); Cumbrian Characters, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, 1968 (66).
This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.
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