George Frederic Watts

‘For he had great possessions’


Not on display

George Frederic Watts 1817–1904
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1397 × 584 mm
Presented by the artist 1897

Display caption

The title of this picture is taken from the Biblical story of the rich man who approached Christ asking to become a disciple. When told that he must first sell all his worldly possessions he had second thoughts, choosing to reject the spiritual life and retain his great accumulation of material goods. First exhibited in 1894, the work was one of a group in which Watts expressed his antagonism towards greed. While the composition indicates the man's psychological dilemma, it also focuses the viewer's attention on the rich fabric of his clothes. The handling of the paint consciously strives to imitate that of the great Venetian painters, most notably Titian.

Gallery label, August 2004

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