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George Frederick Watts, 1817–1904, British


Oil on panel
Support (PTG): 26 x 19 inches (66 x 48.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Claire and Albert J. Zuckerman, Yale School of Drama MFA 1961, DFA 1962
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
allegory | globes (cartographic spheres) | hope | lyres | religious and mythological subject | woman
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

By the 1880s, George Frederick Watts had become one of the most celebrated Victorian painters and aimed to restore allegorical painting to a prominent place in British art. Adopting a symbolist approach later in life, he declared, "I paint ideas, not things." In this painting, Hope sits on a globe wearing a blindfold. She looks forlorn as she plucks at a broken lyre. This version is one of at least five painted by the artist and is the only one to include a rainbow behind the figure. It was purchased by Richard Budgett in memory of his late wife, who had been a keen admirer of Watts’s work. The rainbow, as a link between heaven and earth, hints at an enduring bond between the couple. Watts’s Hope was the subject of a sermon by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright that inspired future President Barack Obama and later prompted the title of his book The Audacity of Hope. Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2020

Brian Aldis, Watts Matter, Brian Aldis on the Morality and Art of G. F. Watts, now on show at Whitechapel , Guardian (Manchester, England), Manchester, 30 January 1974, p. 10, Available online: Proquest, The Guardian and The Observer

Arts Council of Great Britain, George Frederick Watts O. M., R. A. (1817 - 1904), The Tate Gallery, 9 December 1954 to 16 January 1955 , London, 1954, p. 39, no. 65, NJ18 W35 A77 (YCBA)

Mrs. Russell Barrington, G. F. Watts, Reminiscences , The Macmillan Company, New York, 1905, pp. 33, 37, NJ18 W35 B3 (YCBA)

Charles T. Bateman, G. F. Watts, R. A., George Bell and Sons, London, 1901, pp. 25, 33, 35-36, WA8476 (LSF)

Mark Bills, An Artists' Village, G. F. Watts and Mary Watts at Compton , Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd, London, 2011, pp. 11, 140, 142, NJ18 W35 B552 2001 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Mark Bills, G. F. Watts Victorian Visionary, Highlights from the Watts Gallery Collection , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008, pp. 220-223, no. 59, NJ18 W35 B55 2008 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Wilfrid Blunt, England's Michelangelo, A Biography of George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. , Hamish Hamilton, London, 1975, pp. xviii, 62, 155, 212, 220, 237, pl. 12b, 12c, NJ18 W35 B5 (YCBA)

Barbara Bryant, Inside G. F. Watts's Hope, The making of a version , New Haven, CT, entire recording, DVD 209 (YCBA)

J. Cartwright, Life and Work of George Frederick Watts, R.A., Art Journal, 1896, p. 11, Available online: Hathi Trust Digital Library

M. Chamot, British School, A Concise Catalogue , Tate Publishing, London, 1953, p. 269, no. 1640, N1080 A6 1953 (YCBA)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, G. F. Watts, Duckworth and Co., London, 1904, pp. 47-52, Nj18 W35 C48 1975 (YCBA)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Literary Portraits of G. F. Watts, R.A., Bookman, vol. 19, London, December 1900, p. 80, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Watts, Speaker: The Liberal View, 9 July 1904, p. 332, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Christie's Sale Catalogue : Important British and Irish Art . June 13, 2001., Christie's, London, 13 June 2001, pp. 62 - 66, lot 13, Sales Catalogues (YCBA)

Julie F. Codell, Victorian Artists' autograph replicas : auras, aesthetics, patronage and the art market, Taylor & Francis, Ltd, New York, pp. 138-139, fig. 10.1, ND467 .V515 2020 (YCBA)

Colour Reproductions from the Pictures of G. F. Watts, The Times (London), London, 18 January 1909, p. 10, Available online: Times Digital Archive Also available on Microfilm: Film An T482 (SML)

Lindsay Duguid, A Happy Intoxication of Soul, TLS, the Times Literary Supplement, London, 31 October 1997, p. 23, Available online: Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive

Epworth Press, Visions of an Artist, Studies in F. F. Watts, R.A., O.M., with Verse Interpretations , London, 1921, pp. 61-70, Available online: Hathi Trust Digital Library

Exhibition Catalogues of the New Gallery, 1897; Royal Academy, 1905; Tate Gallery, &c., &c., Edinburgh Review, vol. 202, Edinburgh, July 1905, p. 34, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Victorian Artists in England, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1964, p. 99, no. 157, ND47 N37 1965 (YCBA)

Fine Art at the Exhibition, Introductory Notice , Guardian (Manchester, England), Manchester, 3 May 1887, p. 5, Available online: Proquest, The Guardian and the Observer

Fine Arts : The Grosvenor Gallery, Independent ... Devoted to the Consideration of Politics, Social and Economic Tendencies, History, Literature, and the Arts, vol. 38, July 15, 1886, p. 7, Avaialble online : American Periodicals Series II

G. F. Watts, Guardian (Manchester, England), Manchester, 2 July 1904, p. 7, Available online: Proquest, The Guardian and The Observer

John Gage, G. F. Watts, A Nineteenth Century Phenomenon , Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1974, , no. 66, NJ18 W35 G34 (YCBA)

Veronica Franklin Gould, G. F. Watts, The Last Great Victorian , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2004, pp. 21, 97, 195, 200, 214, 227, 250, pl. XXIX, NJ18 W35G68 2004 (YCBA)

Veronica Franklin Gould, Vision of G. F. Watts OM RA (1817-1904), Watts Gallery Trust, London, 2004, pp. 7, 8, 20, 25, 26. 77-78, no. 81, NJ18 W35 V57 2005 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

George L. Graham, George Frederick Watts, England's Painter of Eternal Truths, Brush and Pencil, vol. 14, July 1904, pp. 266, 270, 272, 274, Available online: JSTOR

Lucinda Hawksley, Fifty British Artists You Should Know, Prestel, Munich : New York, NY, 2011, pp. 60-61, N6796 .H39 2011 (YCBA)

Illustrirter Katalog der Münchener Jahresausstellung von Kunstwerken Aller Nationen, Franz Hanfstaengl Kunstverlag, Munich, 1893, p. 89, no. 1651, Available online http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00002279/images/index.html?fip=

Life and Work of G.F. Watts, R.A., The Graphic, London, 21 March 1896, p. 385, Available online: 19th Centu British Library Newspapers database

Hugh Mcmillan, Life-Work of George Frederick Watts, R. A., J. M. Dent and Co., London, 1903, pp. 200-204, J18 W349 903M (SML)

Memorial to G. F. Watts, Address by the Bishop of London , Guardian (Manchester, England), Manchester, 14 December 1905, p. 6, Available online: Proquest, The Guardian and The Observer

Cosmo Monkhouse, British Contemporary Artists, W. Heinemann, London, 1899, p. 31, ND467 M7 (YCBA)

Edward. Morris, Victorian and Edwardian Paintings in the Walker Art Gallery and at Sudley House, British Artists born after 1810 but before1861 , Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1996, pp. 19, 487-488, cat. WAG2105, ND467 M772 1996 (YCBA)

Mr. G. F. Watts at the New Gallery, Art Journal, February 1897, p. 62, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Musée du Petit Palais, Peinture romantique anglaise et les preraphaelites., Exposition: 21 janvier-16 avril 1972. , Paris, 1972, p. 322, no. 322, ND467 P37 1972 (YCBA)

Jeremy Paxman, The Victorians, Britain Through the Paintings of the Age , BBC Books, London, 2009, pp. 221, 223-224, ND467 P39 2009 (YCBA)

J. E. Phythian, Manchester City Art Gallery, Handbook to the G. F. Watts Memorial Exhibition , Sherrat and Hughes, London and Manchester, 1905, pp. 38-40, no. 141, WB13073 (LSF)

Matthew Porter, Materialism and the Mark of Modernity in the Work of GF Watts, British Art Journal, vol. 7, London, Winter 2006/2007, p. 74, Available online: JSTOR

George B. Rose, Two Great Idealists : G. F. Watts, Arnold Boecklin, Art World, vol. 1, February 1917, p. 337, Available online: JSTOR

Royal Jubilee Exhibition, The Fine Arts Section , Guardian (Manchester, England), Manchester, 3 May 1887, p. 4, Available online: Proquest, The Guardian and the Observer

Sotheby's sale catalogue : Nineteenth Century European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Part I : 26 October 1986, Sotheby's, London, 26 October 1986, pp. 88-90, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)

Sotheby's sale catalogue : Victorian Pictures : 4 June 1997., Sotheby's, London, June 4, 1997, pp. 96-99, lot 157, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)

M. H. (Marion Henry) Spielmann, Mr. George Frederick Watts, R.A., Magazine of Art, London, January 1897, p. 208, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Frederic George Stephens, George Frederick Watts, Esq., R.A., LL.D., Portfolio: an Artistic Periodical, January 1887, pp. 13-14, 16, 18, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Rosemary Treble, Great Victorian Pictures, Their Paths to Fame (An Arts Council Exhibition 1978) , Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1978, p. 88, no. 63, ND467 A77 1978 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Colin Trodd, Before History Painting, Enclosed Experience and the Emergent Body in tthe [sic] Work of G. F. Watts , Visual Culture in Britain, vol. 6, summer 2005, pp. 45-47, fig. 3, N6761 V57 (YCBA)

Colin Trodd, Representations of G. F. Watts, Art Making in Victorian Culture , Ashgate Publishing, Burlington, VT, 2004, pp. 10-11, 38-42, 162-164, fig. 3, NJ18 W35 R47 (YCBA)

Nicholas Tromans, G. F. Watts, London and Harrogate , Burlington Magazine, vol. 151, April 2009, pp. 256-257, no. 62, N1 B87 151:2 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Norman Vance, Hardy's 'The Darling Thrush' and G. F. Watt's Hope, Victorian Poetry, vol. 33, summer 1994, pp. 295-298, Available online: JSTOR

Victorian High Renaissance, George Frederic Watts (1817 - 1934), Frederic Leighton (1830 - 1896), Albert Moore (1841 - 1893), Alfred Gilbert (1854 - 1934) , Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1978, p. 90, no. 31, N6465 V5 M55 (YCBA)

Malcolm Warner, Victorians, British Painting 1837 - 1901 , National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1996, p. 135, no. 33, ND467 W37 1997 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

George Frederick Watts, Hope, Good Words, vol. 40, December 1899, p. 218, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Mary S. Watts, George Frederick Watts, The Macmillan Company, London, 1912, (v. 2) pp. 57, 106, 150, 163, NJ18 W35 W37 2 (YCBA)

Watts, Bates and Guild, Boston, 1905, pl. 5, NJ18 W35 W35 (YCBA)

Andrew Wilton, Age of Rossetti, Burn-Jones & Watts, Symbolism in Britain (1860-1910) , Tate Publishing, London, 1997, pp. 64-65, 201-202, no. 76, fig. 35, NX543 A47 1997 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Andrew Wilton, Exhibition Review : "G. F. Watts : London and Compton', Burlington Magazine, vol. 147, March 2005, pp. 196-198, N1 B87 147:1 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Christopher Wood, Victorian Painting, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1999, pp. 203-204, ND467.5.V52 W659 1999 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Work of G. F. Watts, British Architect, London, 16 June 1905, p. 429, Available online: Proquest, British Periodicals database

Works of G. F. Watts at the New Gallery, The Manchester Guardian, Manchester, 29 December 1896, p. 10, Available online: Proquest, The Guardian and the Observer

Works of Mr. George F. Watts, R.A., with a complete catalogue of his Pictures, Pall Mall Gazette, 1886, p. 30, Fiche B1244 Fich N.4.2.453 (SML)

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