George Frederic Watts

Love and Death

c.1885–7

Not on display

Artist
George Frederic Watts 1817–1904
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 2476 x 1168 mm
frame: 2835 x 1505 x 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the artist 1897
Reference
N01645

Display caption

Large symbolic paintings about hope, life and love and death were popular with Victorian audiences. Watts produced many works on these themes. Here, the character of Love (on the right) is trying to defend the house of Life. Death (on the left) advances calmly with a bowed head. Death tramples the wild roses in its path, but doesn’t disturb the dove, associated with peace, on the bottom right. Watts described this painting as ‘the progress of the inevitable but not terrible Death, who partially but not completely overshadows Love’.

Gallery label, August 2018

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