SINCE Ruskin died, no personality so rare as that of George Frederick Watts has left us. In the following pages reminiscences of his conversation are inwoven with an estimate of the artist and the man.
In conversation he often enlarged on the teaching functions of Art, and on all the great artists from Phidias to Michael Angelo, from Giotto to Raphael as teachers of their time. He said he thought that Art had greater things to do in years to come than it had yet accomplished. He believed in the splendid possibilities before Humanity in this domain, as in all others open to it; but the pathways men must take to realise them were slow and patient labour day by day, integrity, hard work, self-sacrifice, fixity of aim, and joy in work. “He was not sure that we in England” (he referred, he said, to the average middle-class, and those just below them) “had the same love of beauty as the Italians of the same class had, or that we were amenable to it in the same way. He did not think that the English were a decadent race; but this great and wondrous nation of ours had lived through much, accomplishing much, and possibly it was near its meridian, if it had not already passed it. All nations had their rise, decline, and fall; and how many nations have vanished, in Egypt, Greece, Carthage, etc.” The “increasing purpose” of the ages was referred to, but he replied, “Yes I believe in it; but that purpose is quite consistent with the loss of particular, and especially of insular, civilisations. The decay of nations was a sad but perhaps a necessary fact, connected with the rise of new elements, and types of greatness. In our time there was a want of the heroic (and yet we had many heroes, especially in humble life), the refined, the self-abnegating, and also of the `high seriousness,’ which Matthew Arnold longed for. There was too much scramble, and opinionativeness; and far too great a love of money, and of ease.” He denounced the worship of athletics, the craze for sports, accompanied by betting. “Many young children are precocious in evil. It is sad to see them smoking cigarettes; and the want of decorous living is lamentable. Vulgarity is rampant, and there is a change,, not always for the better, passing over the press of the country. It is a degradation to useful newspapers to admit vulgar advertisements into their columns. Old industries, alas! are vanishing, especially in the rural districts of England, and in the Highlands of Scot-land.
Nevertheless the world is advancing. Evolution is a continuous process, and better things are in store for man than he has ever known. The passing away of old usages is inevitable ; but I am glad to see that in Scotland your university students keep up their torchlight processions, when a new Lord Rector is installed. I wish they could wear coats of mail on these occasions! ”
He spoke of the vast influence of school teaching in forming the character of a nation. The teaching of Languages and of History was most beneficial; but he wished there was more Art-teaching in schools, from the humblest elementary one, up to Eton and the rest. He referred to the good work that was unconsciously done in other directions, in the course of Art teaching at school, by encouraging the children of peasant labourers to draw, paint, carve, mould, and design. Perhaps the best teaching of all was obtained by the daily sight in school, or on the walls of cottage homes, of authentic pictures of monumental men and women.
Referring to contemporary affairs he spoke with enthusiasm of Queen Victoria, but added that she should have gone to Ireland every year ; for by so doing she would have won the hearts of the Irish people, as much as she had captivated the Scots. Also, she left the Prince of Wales too long out of touch with his coming sphere of influence. She might have delegated some work to him to do in connection with the State.
He enlarged on what we owe to the Irish race, and to our Irish inheritance. It had done much for the nation in literature and in war. While he liked the Scottish translations from the Gaelic, he liked the Irish ones better. This led him to speak of England’s frequent injustices to Ireland, which had no doubt fostered democracy. If the democratic tide was flowing strongly, he did not wonder at it for, if we went back to the origin of property, we would find that many of the ancestors of our nobility came to their estates through conquest or seizure. The true condition of ownership was service.
Watts’s appreciation of contemporary artists was great, often enthusiastic; especially of Burne -Jones, Rossetti, Millais, and Leighton, but also of others; and I mention those whom I have heard him praise especially Holman Hunt, Fred. Walker, Legros, Lady Waterford, Mason, Pinwell, Whistler. Of a still living artist, whom I may not name, he said, “His portraits are as good as those of Vandyke or Velasquez.
His directness and suggestion are quite as great as theirs.” Most of his friends can recall words of eulogy spoken of his contemporaries, but amongst them all his appreciation of Burn e-Jones was probably the keenest. I remember meeting him at an exhibition of his friend’s pictures in the New Gallery, shortly after that friend’s death, one day on my return from a Christmas visit to Rome. He asked me: “Where have you come from, and what have you seen ?” When told, he said, with a majestic wave of his hand round the room in which we stood: “Well, in all Rome you saw nothing finer than this, nothing finer than this.”
As a many-sided talker he had scarce a rival in our time. As a conversationalist his power was greater than Ruskin’s, while his artistic insight was equal to that of his friend, and his criticism surer-footed. It had no fads, and was buttressed round about by a wider culture in other directions. The happy way in which he brought in his parallels and contrasts in conversation was very striking; e. g., speaking of Lord Kitchener’s achievements as a commander, he said: “Could Wellington have done better than he did, or even so well ?” Referring to the wife of one of our peers, herself of noble birth, and describing the way in which she entered a room, he exclaimed: “Pallas Athena wasn’t in it.”
Much could be said as to the authors, and the books, he loved best; Homer, the Decameron, Dante, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, etc.; above all, the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. He spoke to me with the greatest enthusiasm of Mr. Claude Montefiore’s Bible for Home Reading.
As an artist Watts had a large and many-sided inheritance, and many types of excellence lived again in him. To a certain extent the spirit of Phidias, as well as that of Michael Angelo, was in him. So was that of Giotto, of Carpaccio, and John Bellini, of Da Vinci and Raphael, of Titian and Tintoretto. He was the successor of them all, the continuator of their work, their heir in the legacy of genius. Hence his amazing versatility. He so imbibed their spirit as to re-produce it in oil painting, in fresco, in sculpture, and as designer in metal. And yet he had no master in the ordinary sense of the term. “I followed no influence,” he said, “even in youth.” And if he called no min master, he did not found a school. As Wordsworth said of Milton:
His soul was like a star, and dwelt apart,
But the most distinctive feature of his genius was its idealism. To begin with, he dispensed with realistic models. He elaborated subjects, which he first saw with the “inward eye,” before he wrought them out externally on canvas, doing this with an originality and directness that were all his own. He said, “I paint ideas, not objects;” but by that he did not mean that he ignored the real. His pathway to reality was constructed, and carried out, along ideal lines. In an ever-memorable sentence he wrote: “My intention has not been so much to paint pictures that will charm the eye, as to suggest great thoughts that will appeal to the imagination and the heart, and kindle all that is best and noblest in humanity.” And so great as was his mastery of technique, and his power in draughtmanship, it was far greater in symbolic representation, with what may be called a character-purpose underneath. The poet just quoted from wrote to Sir George Beaumont, “The poet is a teacher. I want to be considered as a teacher, or as nothing.” Watts acted on this maxim as an artist; and his acting on it is one key to his greatness.
And so he did more than any other nineteenth-century teacher to refute the maxim that Art has nothing to do with Morality, or that the Beautiful and the Good are disparate; because he proved the opposite by his own practice. “Art for Art’s sake alone” was to him an artistic heresy of the first magnitude. But the mere presence of a truth behind the form and colour of a picture was not enough. No one realised more fully, or proved better than he did, that the media through which artistic truth is presented, or conveyed, must be as perfect as technical processes can make them; but then he also saw, and taught, that they must express what they cannot delineate, and that they must suggest what they are unable to disclose.
And here came in his surpassing use of allegory, of clear and noble symbolism in pictures, where ideas are “half-concealed, yet half-revealed.” Allegory was to Watts what his “dramatic-lyric” work in verse was to Browning, viz.: one of the media by which truth could best of all be discerned, although disclosed through veils. And in all of it, as wrought out by him, there was nothing strained or unreal; although much was elusive at first sight. We cannot imagine Watts attempting such a mosaic as Raphael’s in the Chigi chapel, where the subject is “God Creating the Stars”, a picture full of artifice, and in which the grotesquerie of the theme wholly over-powers the grace of the angel-boys. On the other hand, one can imagine the uninitiated realist looking at his Fugue, and being as perplexed to find its meaning, as readers of Browning’s
One Way of Love and Another Way of Love occasionally are to understand the latter. The obscurity of some of his pictures to the common eye, however, is due to the fact that the artist saw so much to which the common eye is blind. But most of his symbols are clear as crystal. His Hope is like Browning’s Abt Vogler, or his Rabbi Ben Ezra, or his Guardian Angel. In Love and Death, where Love tries to stay the approach of the last enemy; in Love and Life, in which the former guides and protects the latter ; in Time, Death and judgment, and in Love Triumphant, we have a single great thought presented to us, unobscured by complex side-suggestionsas was the case in that great contemporary picture The Light of the World. It is the combination of this clear direct allegory, this unambiguous ideal touching, with exceeding fineness of contour and warmth of colour, that has made his pictures appeal with such a charm alike to the educated and half-educated classes.
It is also worthy of note that the subjects chosen for his allegoric work were not sought in the distant past, or even in the present, but rather in the perennial and ever-present symbolism of the world. Realizing, as he always did, the impotence of language to disclose what lies deepest in man although his power over the resources of the English tongue was great he dealt with the “open secret” of the world through the medium of Art. In all his work he was artist first, teacher after-wards; artist pure and simple, while in insight he was seer and prophet. No one could be long in his presence without realizing that his know-ledge of ultimate problems was as wide, and his acquaintance with them as deep, as that of any of his contemporaries. His familiarity with classical themes, with History and Antiquities, is seen in several of his works; but his appreciation of the great questions of the agestheir partial solutions and abiding mysteriesis dis-closed in many others. It is for this reason, even more than for his versatility and many-sidedness, that some have presumed to think of him as the Shakespeare of British art. He was certainly far wider in his range than Sir Joshua, Gains-borough, or Haydon; while there was an elevation, a majesty, and magnificence about his work, which was absent from theirs.
His allegoric teaching culminated in those paintings which refer to Death and the Future. In those already mentioned, and in Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, The Messenger, Death Crowning Innocence, Love Triumphant, but above all in The Court of Death, the ever fascinating yet mysterious subject was dealt with from many different points of view. He wished to help men to realise that Death was not only inevitable and natural, but that it was a friend and not an enemy.
“I want,” he said, “to destroy the notion that it is `the king of terrors.’ ” Again, “my favourite thought recognises Death as a kind nurse who says, `Now then, children, you must go to bed, and wake up in the morning. In the Sic Transit with its magnificent motto, “What I spent, I had; What I saved, I lost; What I gave, I have” the truth is indirectly taught which culminates in The Court of Death. Of the former picture he said, “It conveys some of the lessons I would teach; at the end of life, a man has simply to leave behind the things he most prizes.” But in the latter a much loftier note is struck. The central idea of that great painting is far nobler than what is conveyed in Love and Death: in which we see, and feel, the pathos of resisting love before resistless doom. He said to me, when expounding this later picture in Little Holland House, and at Limnerslease, “I want to take away the terribleness of Death, and the irrational shrinking of men and women before it.” It is the same as that which underlies the whole of Tennyson’s In Memoriam. I ventured to refer to the well-known lines of another poet,
Thou takest not away, O death! Thou strikest; absence perisheth.
He said, “Yes; but my aim is to represent Death as a gracious Mother, calling her chidren home. You see, I could not make the central figure in that picture a man. It is a woman, a Queen, a Goddess, a Mother. She summons her children, and they come to her gladly. The peer lays down his coronet, the warrior his sword; the maiden lies down to sleep.
The child, too, is there, for youth as well as age must die. Above them are two figures, one on either side. On the left hand there is Mystery, the impenetrable mystery of death; while on the right there is Hope, hope for the future. But the central idea, and the central fact, is the joyous, benignant Mother; a goddess, and more than a goddess, calling her children home.”
It is questionable if any theological, argumentative, or poetical treatment of the subject of Death and the Future has taught the world more than this picture has done. Certainly no Platonic dialogue, or Stoical treatise, has ex-celled it. And it shows, more than his works do, that Watts was in a really profound sense, a religious artist; although not in the way in which the chief Italians of the Middle Age, from Cima-bue to Raphael, were. He did not give us “Holy Families,” “Annunciations,” pictures of the “Nativity,” the “Crucifixion,” or the ” Flight into Egypt,” etc. He dealt rather with the fundamental verities, and even tried to penetrate the arcana of belief. And so, as already said, his message was to all the Churches. He was too wise a man to proclaim himself a teacher, too complete an artist to obtrude an ethical aim into his pictures. But throughout his whole career, dealing with the deep things of our humanity and the mysteries that underlie our common life, his aim was to hearten his contemporaries by unfolding those fair ideals and hopes with which his own mind was full. Even when historical or legendary subjects were selected by him, it was those which had a perennial lesson that were chosen, not those which reflected a passing zeitgeist, but subjects which were relevant to any and every age.
We must not forget that he almost brought about the reintroduction of fresco work into England. As all who have followed his career are aware, its turning point was his obtaining one of the first premiums of £300 offered for decorative designs in connection with the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. With a. wise prescience, Benjamin Haydon had said, : `”If the Commission heroically adopts fresco, the effect on British Art will be tremendous. That province I know to be a silent volcano.” It is unnecessary to re-tell the story of Watts’s Caractacus, or his Alfred Inciting the Saxons to Resist the Landing of the Danes, or his later (and greater) fresco of justice for the Hall of Lincoln’s Inn; but his appreciation of mural painting on a large scale dealing with historic subjects was such that he made the most generous offers towards its realisation. Many know of his offer to the directors of the London and North-Western Railway to decorate the hall of Euston Station with groups illustrative of the progress of the race. Had the offer been accepted, and the work executed, it would probably have perished by this time ; as fresco cannot live long uninjured by the fogs and darkness of our climate, and least of all in London. But the offer to adorn a railway station with pictures of the Cosmos can never be forgotten; and had it been realised, the result would probably have eclipsed the Lincoln’s Inn achievement of 1859.
His dreams of a great hall to be filled with frescoes, illustrating not only English life, character, and history, but memorialising the noble deeds of all timepictures which would be a school of teaching as well as a source of delight to thousandswas Utopian. Nevertheless it was a magnificent idea; and if its realisation ever comes, it must wait for the advent of another artist like himself.
Ruskin spoke of him as “the only real painter of History or Thought we have in England.” That was doubtless an exaggeration, but there can be no doubt that he was one of the very greatest. Since his pictures are dispersed in places so far apart it would certainly be a great thing for the nation if as many of them as are removableand there are between 700 and 800 could be brought together for a time in a great loan exhibition, similar to that of the works of Burne-Jones in the New Gallery some years ago, or the smaller collection of his own pictures in in the same gallery in 1896-7.
Watts was a distinguished portrait-painter for more than fifty years ; and most of his contemporaries of eminence sat to him on his own invitation. It is doubtful if any portrait-painter the wide world over ever did this in the same way, and certainly no one has done it for a similar reason, viz., that he might gift their likenesses to the nation. His divining instinct told him who were the representative men whom it was desirable to include in his National Portrait Gallery, his valhalla of the illustrious. He did not succeed in obtaining sittings from all whom he wished to paint, but his list is a very remark-able one; and no portrait-painter was ever less photographic. Mere outward resemblance was not his aim, but the portrayal of character be-hind the features, a Iikeness hinted or suggested rather than wrought out. As expression is for-ever changing, many varying moods have to be combined in a unity made permanent through form and colour. More than that, the central dominant expression, the individuality of the individual, the speciality of his character, has to be discovered and represented. Tennyson’s lines in the Idylls of the King were written in reference to the practice of Watts as portrait-artist:
As when a painter, poring on a face Divinely through all hindrance finds the man Behind it, and so paints him that his face, The shape and colour of a mind and life Live for his children ever at its best.
And how true this is of almost all his portraits. He is said to have liked best his rendering of the features of his brother artist, Burne-Jones; but others in his great gallery are quite as fineLords Stratford de Redcliffe, Lawrence, Lytton, and Tennyson, Mr. Russell Gurney, Mrs. Percy Wyndham, George Meredith, Joachim, etc. In a collected gallery of his works the variety of the types presented to us would be very notice-able. We would find the innocence of girlhood, the purity of womanhood, the strength of man-hood, the patience of age, the contentedness of labour, the power of intellect, the expectancy of youth, the wisdom of maturity, the serenity of departing life. There is no doubt that had his early wish been realised, he would have been our fresco-painter on a national scale, par excellence; but then the world would have never seen his magnificent series of idylls, odes, and sonnets on canvas; great epics pushing all these aside.
As a colourist he had perhaps his equals amongst nineteenth-century men, but scarcely a rival. Millais and Burne-Jones surpassed him in some directions; but, take him for all in all, we must go back to the Venetians-and perhaps to Tintoretto rather than to Titian-to find canvases at once more gorgeous and more delicate; while for colour, subservient to an ethereal ideal aim, he had no rival in his time. He was very modest in his estimate of himself as a colourist; and would, perhaps, have admitted that he was conventional now and then, in the way in which he rendered the billowy fringes of his drapery, his flesh tints, or his clouds. A learner to the very end, he once said to me in the studio at Little Holland House, without the faintest soupcon of pretencefor affectation was impossible to him
“I think if I live, I shall be a colourist yet!” He had been lamenting his own failures, and praising the success of others when he said it. His landscape colour was occasionally as fine as that of Turner; while to equal its rich symbolism we must go back to Francois Millet. As in portraiture so in landscape-arthe was never a mere copyist; or, while reproducing Nature, he drew out its ideality, and combined details so as to present us with an allegory. Like our English Millais in his Autumn Leaves, his Harbour of Refuge and his Vagrants, or Frederick Walker in his Plough, or Mason in his Harvest Moon, he was a symbolist in his landscape-art. Such pictures as The Dove that Returned in the Evening, The Dove that Returned not Again, Neptune’s Horses, Good Luck to Your Fishing, or The Mid-day Rest, are landscape-allegories. And when he dealt with Nature pure and simple, as in his sunset pictures of Western Scotland, his Naples, the Bay and Vesuvius, his Carrara Mountains from Pisa, or his Mount Ararat, the combination of strength and refinement, of meaning and delicacy, carries the spectator beyond the actual. Quite as much as our idealist poets do, he showed us
The light that never was on sea or land.
His achievements in sculpture were such as to warrant the belief that had he given himself to it exclusively, after his early initiation through the Elgin marbles, he might have become perhaps the greatest in Europe since Michael Angelo. As a youth he learned much in the studio of William Behnes, but it was his study of the Elgin marbles that enabled him to produce his Clytie; and the Greek spirit of the Periclean age breathes through all his statuary, as it does through much of his mural painting and through such single figures as Psyche. Hugh Lupus is a magnificent statue, but his greatest work in sculpture is undoubtedly that which finds a temporary resting-place in the quadrangle of Burlington House, viz., Physical Energy, originally intended for the Thames Embankment, but to be shortly placed near the grave of Cecil Rhodes on the Matoppo Hills in South Africa. When seen on a height, and from a distance, its power will be apparent. The courtyard where it is at present is the worst possible place for such a co-colossal subject. Its designer and executor worked at it on and off for twenty years, as he worked at The Court of Death.
Of no sculptor or painternot even of Michael Angelo and Raphaelcan it be said that they never failed in their work; but there are, perhaps, fewer failures to be recorded in the long list of Watts’s productions than in those of any other in the artist-list enrolled.
He was a master in form, design, invention, colour, atmosphere, character, suggestion, ideality.
We find in him the classic and the renaissance spirit, the ancient and the modern combined; and yet he was pre-eminently our great nineteenth-century English artist.
When his life is written with authorityits story is already told in his pictureswe shall obtain reliable information as to many of the influences which shaped and determined his career. We shall know what Florence did for him, and Rome and Holland House, what Halicarnasus and Egypt did. Admired and honoured wherever he went, he lived an unobtrusive life; apart from others, though not a recluse. He never thought of “pleasing the public,” or “painting to order.” He followed the guidance of his own ideals, at first along a somewhat lonely road. More versatile and eclectic than any of his con-temporaries, he allied himself to no school, owed allegiance to no masters, save the great Greek sculptors. This, however, did not prevent him from sympathising with men, and appreciating movements with which he could not identify himself, viz., the Pre-Rapha lites. He could not be one of the leaders of that cult. His fresco-work in the Hemicycle of Lawgivers had been too Raphaelesque to permit of his being swept forward on a new current of romance, great as it was. But he appreciated (none more so) the aims, and honoured the successes, of Rossetti, Maddox Brown, Holman Hunt, Millais, and the rest of the brotherhood.
It is specially noteworthy that from the first he did not set himself to copy even the greatest of his predecessors. He studied them all, in London Florence and Rome, took mental notes of them, assimilated what was best in them, schooled himself by their excellences, followed their example, but did not copy them. He worked with rarest modesty and self-abnegation; and his greatness came out in his silence before the masterpieces which he reverenced, quite as much as in his ceaseless labour for posterity, The strenuousness of that labour, and his pursuit of the ideal, found expression in the motto carved on his sundial in the garden at Limnerslease,
The utmost for the highest.
The titles chosen by artists for their pictures are often significant, and some of those selected by Watts were poems in embryo. As many of Browning’s poems were both theses and pictures in verse, so many of Watts’s pictures were theses in form, and colour-illustrations of ideal truth on canvas. But the titles he gave them were often studies in symbolism, and they suggested more than they disclosed. I once asked him if he would give us a picture that might be called The Strength of the Hills is His. He replied : “I cannot use that title. It is too great for me. I have sometimes thought of The Spirit of God Moved upon the Face of the Waters. That I might use, but not the other.” He added: “The first chapter of Genesis is full of titles for the painter of allegory. So are Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and some of the Psalms. But, of the greatest of all time, how true it is, `never man spake like this man.’ You read through all the literature of the East, of Greece, and of Rome, and where do you come across a sentence like this: “Suffer the little children to come unto me?’ ”
What he has written, or spoken, of his own convictions as to Art, and his own practice of it, has a special interest and value to posterity. In the year 189o, when he resolved not to claim his right as an R. A. to send pictures to Burlington House, but to let his work be judged each year by the Committee on its merits, he wrote, “In my seventy-fourth year, I cannot be certain of being up to my old level, and I have asked for severe judgment from the Committee of Selection, and the Hanging Committee, in order to be sure of not disgracing the Academy and myself; so I may have nothing there. Of course, it is probable that the Council may find my contributions sufficiently satisfactory to hang, but I am very sincere in my desire to have my work judged even severely. We have seen deplorable examples of the failure of the eye and hand, and I much desire not to be added to the number.”
So late as 1895 he wrote: “I am always gratified when I find the drift of my efforts recognised. That may be accepted as a certain measure of success. Contemporary opinion as to the merit of technical accomplishment, I do not find much satisfaction in; knowing how much such opinion varies, as time goes on.”
Very characteristic, too, was his habit of intermitting work on a particular picture in order to take up another, and again to lay the latter down. Doing his work by instalments, with intervals for fresh survey and reconsideration ; this was to him the rest that fitted for toil. His relaxation was not idleness, but change of work.
His great kindness to animals, and his sympathy with the Associations for preventing cruelty to them, should not be forgotten. I remember his denunciation of what he called the “barbarous custom” of cutting, or docking, horses’ tails. He said to me, “It destroys their beauty, and robs them of one of Nature’s gifts. On artistic, as well as humanitarian grounds, it is to be condemned.”
It was one of the aims of his life to preserve through his art the memory of brave deeds, done by brave men and women in humble life. He planned, and in fact carried out, the idea of erecting tablet-inscriptions to their memory in gardens and other public places; setting forth the heroism of acts that resulted in serious injury, or loss of life, in the effort to save the lives of others; and it is one of the most gratifying of tributes to him that this will, in all likelihood, be carried out more fully still. The inscriptions on the memorial wall of St. Botolph’s, Aldersgate-street, are likely to be followed by the erection of a hall or park at Guildford for a similar purpose. Amongst the schemes which he cherished was the “Home Arts and Industries Association,” which ranks with the “Kyrie Society,” the “Society for the Preservation of Public Parks and Gardens,” and the “National Trust for Places of Historical Interest and Natural Beauty,” as one of the best means for bringing the influence of Art to bear on the daily life and surroundings of the poor. He firmly believed that many of the working-classes could learn the meaning of what was good and true, for them-selves and others, if they entered into these realms by the gate called Beautiful.
He saw, as few have done, that high Art was an inheritance for the many, not the property of the esoteric few, but a privilege for all sorts and conditions of men, women, and children.
Similarly, that its mission was to all sects and parties. He dedicated one of his pictures, The Spirit of Christianity, “to all the churches;” and certainly the truth it teaches is one which may appeal to Christian, Jew, Mahometan, Buddhist, and Parsee alike.
Another of his suggestions was that frescoes or oil-pictures, representing great men or great events, or illustrations of great truths, should be painted on the walls of class-rooms in our chief public school during the long summer holidays, when there was time for the execution of the task. He believed that the sight, and the study of such paintings, would be an education to the boys and girls when they returned ; and certainly, if mural tablets in halls or corridors of class-rooms, recording the names of prize-winners, or of old pupils, who afterwards distinguished themselves, or fell in battle for their countryare useful for their successors at school, such pictures as Watts desired to have painted and hung up might embody lessons quite as useful.
He retained a young man’s heart in old age, while almost all his comrades had predeceased him. Ruskin’s death grieved him much. He regretted that he had not managed to include him in his National Gallery of Portraits, and sent a laurel spray to Coniston churchyardas he had sent a similar tribute to Westminster, at the funerals of Browning and Tennysonremarking, “This is the last.”
At his funeral service in St. Paul’s Cathedral. the archdeacon read as Scripture lesson the ever-memorable prayer from Ecclesiasticus, beginning, ” Let us now praise famous men, and the fathers that begat us. Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth for evermore.”
Although the immortality of all the “works of art and man’s device” is relative, and only for a time, it is certain that the achievements of our great nineteenth-century painter will live and profoundly influence thousands, in the era on which we have entered, and in the others that are to follow it.