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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.

September 2004