- Gallery Text
Love and Death, one of Watts’s best-known compositions, was conceived as the artist contemplated universal themes following the death of a young friend. In the painting, which Watts described as a “symbolical” work, the Eros-like figure of Love tries in vain to halt the inexorable progress of Death, whose draped form is poised at the threshold. Watts’s friend and secretary, Mrs. Emilie Barrington, reported that “the intention in this picture has been . . . to endeavor to transmit by form and color a vision of an idea; to suggest, in the figure of Love, beauty, tender passion, and the struggle of unavailing anguish; and in the figure of Death, solemnity, power, irresistible and unconquerable; also an echo of that mystery which veils the unknown.”
Watts produced no less than a dozen replicas of the painting, in varying sizes, after it garnered public acclaim. This schematic drawing may represent an intermediary stage between versions.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Attributed to George Frederick Watts, British (London, England 1817 - 1904 Limnerslease, Compton, England)
- Study for "Love and Death"
- Work Type
- Physical Descriptions
- Charcoal on cream paper
- 28.4 x 13.7 cm (11 3/16 x 5 3/8 in.)
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Anonymous Gift
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Exhibition History
Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016
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