George Frederic Watts

Love and Life

c.1884–5

Artist
George Frederic Watts 1817–1904
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 2222 x 1219 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artist 1897
Reference
N01641

Not on display

Display caption

Of all the works he donated to the Tate Gallery, Watts said that ‘probably Love and Life best portrays my message to the age. Life, represented by the female figure, never could have reached such heights unless protected and guided by Love’.

In the painting Love is shown guiding a naked, frail young woman up the rocky path of existence. As they ascend, violets blossom on jagged stones and clouds disperse to reveal a clear blue sky. Love is here understood as altruism and compassion, rather than physical passion.

Gallery label, September 2004

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