Ruskin Library exhibition to display the work of George Frederick Watts

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In Week 4 of Lent Term, the Ruskin Library announced that they will be swapping exhibitions with the Watts Gallery in Compton, near Guildford.

The Watts Gallery’s collection honours the works of the Victorian artist George Frederic Watts OM, RA (1817-1904) who is famous for addressing the most important issues of his time through his work. His paintings and sculptures are also closely related to the symbolist movement.

The exhibition at the Ruskin Library will consist of 40 of Watts’ drawings, which will cover many different areas of his works, including the preparatory studies to some of his most famous paintings such as ‘Love and Death’ and ‘The All-Pervading’. Some of the famous portraits include that of actress Ellen Terry, who married Watts in 1864 and also the mother of Virginia Woolf, Mrs Leslie Stephen.

In return, the Watts Gallery will be home to the ‘John Ruskin – Photographer and Draughtsmen exhibition’, which features 20 drawings and 20 daguerreotype photographs on loan from the Ruskin Foundation.  It explores how Ruskin used photography to develop his understanding of landscape and architecture which was to become very influential in Victorian Britain and beyond.

Stephen Wildman, Director at the Ruskin Library says the idea of the swap is ‘to put two Victorian giants together’. Wildman also said ‘because both galleries have great collections, it makes sense to do the swap’.

Watts was a lifelong friend of John Ruskin and has been described as ‘England’s Michelangelo’. His work varies in genre, from the history painting to symbolic representations of profound themes like ‘Hope’ and ‘Love and life’. He is also known for his portraits of famous writers, artists and politicians, particularly in his collection ‘Hall of Fame’, as well as the sculptures ‘Clytie’ and ‘Physical Energy’.

The Watts Gallery, which was set up in 1904, reached the final of the BBC Restoration series in 2006, a program following the owners of historic buildings as they restore them to 21st century dream houses. Since the show, the gallery has undergone major refurbishment works.

The Watts exhibition, entitled ‘The Master’s Hand: Drawings by G.F Watts’ is featured from now until April 17th at the Ruskin Library Gallery, which is open from Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. The Ruskin exhibition will run from Tuesday Week 4, Lent Term until Sunday Week 6, Summer Term.

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