The Art of the Sublime

George Frederic Watts Hope 1886

George Frederic Watts 'Hope' 1886
Full screen
George Frederic Watts 1817–1904
Hope 1886
Oil paint on canvas
support: 1422 x 1118 mm; frame: 1740 x 1425 x 105 mm
Presented by George Frederic Watts 1897
Tate N01640
In the Bible (Hebrews, 6:19), hope is ‘an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil’. Here, Hope is blindfolded, seated on a globe and playing a lyre of which all but one of the strings are broken. Watts wanted to find an original approach to allegory on universal themes. But Hope’s attempts to make music appear futile and several critics argued that the work might have been more appropriately titled Despair. Watts explained that ‘Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music which can come from the remaining chord.’

How to cite

George Frederic Watts, Hope 1886, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, January 2013,, accessed 28 May 2015.