The Eve Trilogy With Alison Smith, Curator (19th Century British Art), Tate Britain "These three paintings comprise the Eve trilogy. So we have She Shall be Called Woman in the centre, with Eve Tempted, and Eve Repentant on the other side." "Watts originally conceived these as being part of the House of Life sequence of paintings, but they later evolved into these three large powerful compositions." "I think in terms of Watts' own mythology, these readdress the idea of the evolution of the human soul, of the human body. So it's really the emergence of consciousness. And it's quite interesting in these paintings how the content of the theme is paralleled by Watts' very innovative technique." "To take the central panel, She Shall be Called Woman. This is a very powerful picture. And it shows Eve's really ascension to life. It's almost like a rocket taking off into outer space. You have all this smoke billowing out around her, and you almost feel the form is evaporating or dissolving, as much as it's actually coming together." "I think it's the idea of spirit or energy merging into flesh. He's trying to really show that moment of impact when just energy or atoms or whatever become something solid. And so you have the figure of Eve sort of shooting up towards the sun. And around her you have these wonderful trails of lilies and flowers and birds. So there's an enormous explosion of light and colour to really show the glory of this moment of creation." "The other two paintings I think you should really see like a triptych either side of the central She Shall be Called Woman. And they are more heavy in terms of representation of the female figure. In Eve Tempted, for example, it's a very masculine depiction of the female form. Watts when he painted the nude didn't actually pay particular attention to the model which explains the rather peculiar anatomy, if for example you look at her enormous shoulders, or the way the arms actually interlock with the shoulders, it can be seen as rather awkward. But I think that's deliberate on his part." "I think he was influenced in this work particularly by Venetian painting, also by Michelangelesque sculpture, as well as by the sculpture of ancient Greece. So it's quite sculptural in the way the figure moves. And I think he wants to get this dynamic contraposto into the pose, to show how she is intoxicated by this wonderful profusion of flowers around." "And of course the cheetah rolling on the ground accentuates that idea of sensual pleasure. She's really giving in to the senses. She's totally succumbing to it. And I think to that end he wanted to create a sensual image, but he justifies it in terms of a narrative, because it's the moment when Eve is tempted." "Eve Repentant can be seen as a parallel to Eve Tempted. This shows Eve after the fall, reclining against a tree, totally abandoned in grief. And the compositional lines all drag down downwards. I think it's the idea that these downward lines really correspond to the nature of her grief and her despair. So I think it's a painting which communicates through abstract elements, with the dark colours, her illuminated form, and these descending lines." "I think Watts is quite a difficult artist to like. If one has to live with a painting by Watts, they're quite sort of, they're quite heavy, quite didactic. The paint surfaces aren't immediately attractive to the eye. But they are very powerful compositions. I think he's an artist who repays careful study." "I don't think Watts perhaps appeals at first sight. I think the more you get into his subject matter, his technique, the more you see his paintings perhaps assembled as a whole, and see these correspondences between different works, I think the impact they were intended to have, like a great work of music, with different themes and variations, building up upon one another, totalling one grand symphonic statement, I think in those terms they're monumental and very powerful pieces."