Only known three-quarter self-portrait by GF Watts on display in Watts Gallery in Surrey

By Christian Engel | 15 July 2014

Victorian painter George Frederic Watts is draped in a red gown in a three-quarter length self-portrait bought by the Watts Gallery

Self-Portrait in a Red Robe© Watts Gallery
For the first time in 30 years, the Watts Gallery will show the master’s Self-Portrait in a Red Robe, painted in 1853, after acquiring the only known three-quarter length self-portrait by the artist at a cost of £5 million.

Grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, allied with donations from more than 100 individuals, helped secure the important work from a private American collection.

In the painting, Watts wears a long, red gown, presumed to be that of a Venetian lawyer. The artist is known to have visited Venice in 1853.

The painting will go on temporary display ahead of research and conservation efforts.

It is expected to play a star role in the new display in the artist’s Great Studio, at Limnerslease, where it will hang near the entrance to his restored studio when it opens to the public in September 2015.

“Watts' Self-Portrait will return to the role it played for many years during the artist's lifetime – welcoming visitors to the artist's home and studio,” said Nicholas Tromans, the Curator of the gallery.

“Its addition to our collection as we prepare to open the Great Studios at Limnerslease to the public could not have been better timed.”

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