George Frederic Watts and assistants

Chaos

c.1875–82

Not on display

Artist
George Frederic Watts 1817–1904 and assistants
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1067 × 3048 mm
frame: 1395 × 3375 × 90 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by George Frederic Watts 1897
Reference
N01647

Display caption

Watts intended Chaos to be the ‘opening chapter’ of the House of Life. He said the painting ‘conveys ... an idea of the passing of our planet from chaos to order’. On the left, giants struggle to release themselves from formless fire and vapour. The central figure, emerging from the water, suggests survival. Towards the right, measurable time is signalled by the chain of female figures. In 1884, a version of Chaos was exhibited in a Watts solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It was the museum’s first retrospective dedicated to a living artist.

Gallery label, June 2021

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