Circles of Influence: G.F. Watts, Alphonse Legros and the Slade

Past display archive
7 September 2010 - 8 May 2011

Room 26


Alphonse Legros
by George Frederic Watts
circa 1879
NPG D18060

This display focuses on the eminent Victorian painter G. F. Watts's involvement in Alphonse Legros's career as an admirer of the ‘grave simplicity' of the younger French artist's work. Based on certain portraits they made of each other, it looks at how the mutually respectful nature of their friendship led Watts to actively promote Legros's style of art and to support his appointment as the Professor of the Slade School of Fine Art in 1876.

Showcasing Legros's skill as a portraitist, the display also uses his etchings of Edward Poynter, the artist responsible for establishing the teaching programme at the Slade, and Charles Holroyd, one of his favourite students, to consider the success and significance of Legros's role as ‘The Professor'. An eccentric, witty and slightly controversial character, who wilfully refused to become fluent in English despite the demands of his job, the display shows how from this influential position, Alphonse Legros himself inspired a subsequent generation of talented British artists.