The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Saturday, April 21, 2018

National Portrait Gallery launches online catalogue of letters of Victorian artist G.F. Watts
George Frederic Watts by and published by after for Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington Frank Dudman Joseph Parkin Mayall, circa 1883, ©National Portrait Gallery, London.

LONDON.- The National Portrait Gallery has completed a major online catalogue of the personal and professional correspondence of the renowned nineteenth-century British artist George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), enabling, for the first time, world-wide access to the stories behind his remarkable life and career.

The nine-month project, funded by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives, has included the transcription of 1,446 letters and notes written to, or received by, Watts. The Collection reveals the professional and personal relationships of one of Britain’s most significant artists, providing an invaluable source of material for researchers, students and those with an interest in British art in the nineteenth century.

Watts is celebrated for his portraits of eminent Victorians, known as his ‘Hall of Fame’ series, and the letters in the Collection, held in the Gallery’s Heinz Archive and Library, reflect the impressive artistic, political, academic and social circles in which he moved. From his London residence, Little Holland House, where he lived with the bohemian Prinsep family, Watts corresponded with the Victorian elite and counted many ‘celebrities’ of the time his close friends, including William Ewart Gladstone, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Alfred Tennyson, John Everett Millais, Cecil Rhodes, Cardinal Manning, Julia Margaret Cameron and James Martineau.

Other highlights of the Collection include letters revealing the ideas behind his magnificent symbolist paintings; hundreds of letters between Watts and his art supplier, Winsor and Newton, detailing the secrets of his artistic practice and unusual techniques; and correspondence regarding his exhibitions, including one of over 200 of his works in 1881-82, which was the first ever retrospective of any living British artist, and another in New York in 1884-85. Other letters of interest record appointments for sittings, social engagements and his physical health.

The letters were compiled by Watts’s second wife Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938) following her husband’s death, in preparation for her biography of him, published in 1912. In July 1905, Mary Watts advertised for the loan of Watts’s letters, intending to make copies for biographical research. The correspondence, both original and copied, was arranged and pasted into 15 albums, of which the National Portrait Gallery acquired 14, plus many loose letters.

The Heinz Archive and Library of the National Portrait Gallery, London, documents the history of the institution and its activities, and is the leading centre for research in the field of British portraiture. It also includes archive collections acquired from external sources, including the papers of key portrait artists and art historians. The Watts Collection is one of the most significant of these collections.

George Frederic Watts is considered one of the greatest artists of his age, internationally renowned and celebrated in his own lifetime. He pursued an individual approach to painting and sculpture and pushed the boundaries of Victorian art. As well as his portraits of his distinguished contemporaries in Victorian society, Watts was known for his large allegorical works of art with strong moral messages to educate and improve society. In artistic terms he is significant not only because of the works he produced, but because of his determined innovation in developing an artistic practice which was not tied to a larger artistic movement.

Ruth Benny, National Portrait Gallery Archive Cataloguer (Watts Collection), says: ‘Working on this project I had to fully immerse myself in the world of this intriguing painter. The Watts Archive consists of correspondence which reflects the life and career of this great artist: his art practice and exhibitions, his close friends and patrons and the places he resided. The National Portrait Gallery Archive and Library is very excited about this project as it will be an invaluable research tool to a range of users.’

The online catalogue of Watts’s correspondence is available at An online resource detailing Watts’s life and art, accompanied by extracts from the catalogue, has also been created. Please visit

The National Portrait Gallery launched its online archive catalogue in 2010, enabling a wider audience to access details of the Gallery’s activities since it was founded in 1856. The online archive comprises over 30,000 descriptions containing information about all types of records, including letters, x-rays, videos, posters, press-cuttings, minutes and reports as well as photographs. It includes records of former Gallery Directors, such as Sir George Scharf, Sir Lionel Cust and Sir Roy Strong, as well as on acquiring, conserving and displaying portraits, organising and staging exhibitions, and constructing, managing and developing the building.

Today's News

January 22, 2014

Seven architectural practices from around the world transform the Royal Academy of Arts

Ashmolean acquires Old Master painting: "Venice: the Fondamenta Nuove" by Francesco Guardi

Exhibition of new ceramic works by Lynda Benglis opens at Cheim & Read in New York

Getty Publications launches virtual library, providing free online access to hundreds of backlist titles

National Portrait Gallery launches online catalogue of letters of Victorian artist G.F. Watts

The Hyundai Commission for Tate Modern's Turbine Hall to begin in 2015 and confirmed until 2025

Europeana, Europe’s digital library, museum and archive, releases cross-platform culture app

Original hand-painted concept art of Charlton Heston as Moses up at auction

Unprecedented exhibition of works by Elizabeth Murray opens at Cantor Arts Center

Participating exhibitors announced for The London Original Print Fair 2014 opening 24th April

Afghan Gold: New book from Steidl by Luke Powell shows the beauty of Afghanistan

Connie Dyer is new Deputy Director for Marketing and External Affairs of the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Exhibition of new work by Darren Almond opens at White Cube Bermondsey

"For All Mankind: Vintage NASA Photographs 1964 - 1983" opens at Breese Little

Michaan's achieves auction records in 2013

First English book on women's rights from 1632 to sell at Bonhams

"Surveying Judy Chicago: Five Decades" opens at the Palmer Museum of Art

Season of Sculpture opens at the Herald-Tribune building in Sarasota

Bridgette Mayer Gallery announces its first exhibition of 2014: A solo show by artist Germán Gómez

Ryerson Image Centre focuses on documentary photography with four new exhibitions

Poet Billy Collins' archive acquired by Ransom Center

David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Collection sets new world record and achieves impressive prices

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- John Surtees' one-owner 1957 BMW 507 to be offered for the first time at Bonhams Festival of Speed sale

2.- Antiques looted in Libya by IS sold in Spain, two experts arrested

3.- The world's oldest bridge to be preserved by the British Museum's Iraq Scheme

4.- Exquisite jewels dazzle in historic Cartier exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia

5.- Now showing in US cinemas: "Hitler VS Picasso and The Others" directed by Claudio Poli

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art returns stolen idols to Nepal

7.- Glasgow starts a year of celebration as Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition opens

8.- Very rare Qing Dynasty bowl sells for $30.4 million

9.- Gardner Museum publishes "Stolen" book about 13 works in 1990 theft

10.- Royal Ontario Museum announces appointment of Curator, Islamic Art & Culture

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful