George Frederic Watts is a renowned artist of the Victorian age, and these two portraits offer new insights into his life and work.

Watts was already an established artist when he painted the portrait of Margaret Hughes in 1858. Margaret was the mother of his friend, the philanthropist Jeanie Senior, and the portrait was painted in Malvern, where Watts travelled to take the waters. The portrait is thinly painted in the Flemish tradition, with the sitter appearing against a landscape background. The style is unique within Watts’ oeuvre and singles out the painting as a special gift for a friend rather than a formal commission. The ornate frame, carved with birds and foliage, might have been made by Watts himself. Margaret Hughes was a remarkable woman in her own right, as well as being the mother of several prominent figures, including Thomas Hughes, author of Tom Brown’s School Days. Tom Hughes later established a progressive community in the USA, and Margaret died in this community in Tennessee in 1887.


The Senior family; thence by descent.

Exhibitions at Watts Gallery – Artists' Village

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