In September, Arts & Crafts Tours is offering an extraordinary week’s tour for members of the American Friends of the Watts Gallery and Artists’ Village. You are invited to join this tour – and the American Friends – to see major work of the painter and sculptor George Frederick Watts and his wife, the artist wife Mary Seaton Watts. The trip will be different in several ways. George was quoted as saying “I don’t paint things; I paint ideas.” Interested? There’s more. For example, below is his painting called Hope.
George’s second wife Mary was a potter and received advice from the great ceramicist William deMorgan. At the Gallery you will see some of his work on exhibition. And just down the road in the town cemetery is Mary’s greatest work – a mortuary chapel which she designed and then built with volunteers from the village of Compton. Mary was an accomplished potter and established a pottery but to design and build a chapel? In addition, as this image shows, she included a very complex series of iconography both inside and outside. She continued to live in the village until her death and made many ceramic wares for homes and gardens.
G.F. Watts (1817 –1904) was one of England’s most renowned painters at the end of the 19th century. Though not so well known to Americans, he was the first painter to have an exhibition of his work mounted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
We will begin our week’s sojourn in Surrey, at the Watts Gallery and Artists Village in Compton, treated to an introductory talk by Alistair Burtenshaw, the Gallery’s Director. We will also visit the nearby chapel and have dinner at Limnerslease, the home and studios that George and Mary commissioned Ernest George to design for them where we are guests of members of the staff and Board. The house sits on top of a hill; from the back you can see the Gallery. From the front, the view of a pond and the countryside is beautiful. After our tour of the house, we will have dinner there.
The group will stay in nearby Guildford for two nights, and then move on to Eastnor Castle whose original owners were early patrons of Watts. We will have two nights there, and while there have an opportunity to see some of Watts’ work in a nearby public collection and well as a private collection of one of his earliest patrons.
Then we move on to London for four nights. While here we will spend a day seeing other work by Ernest George including this amazing home he designed for W.S.Gilbert. We will also visit the extraordinary Postman’s Park which he conceived and for which he designed many of the placques which commemorate the heroism of ordinary people. It is located close to St Paul’s Cathedral which we will also visit to see his murals.
Watts lived for some time in Kensington near Holland Park and though his own home has been demolished we will visit Leighton House the home and studio of Frederic Lord Leighton and offers a wonderful opportunity to go back a bit in time to when the area had many artists. Our final evening will be a dinner at the Art Workers Guild where many of our guides and hosts will join us.
Arts & Crafts Tours, is known for our small group tours, for our amazing network of contacts which allow us special entrance to places generally unavailable to the public, and for our guides who are persons with special knowledge and expertise in their subject or property. We will also take very good care of you with 4 or 5* hotels or the best available in a given locality. We include transportation to and from the airport to your hotel. Our guides often join us for lunch or dinner in this case, the group will also benefit from the knowledge of members of the Board of the Watts Gallery.
I hope you will agree that this is a very special opportunity and that you will want to join us.
You can download the registration form and tour conditions below. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask send us a message. We would love to have you travel with us.