Lilian and Michael Chapman;
Thence by descent
Stevenson, C. Bernard, Catalogue of the Special Loan Collection of Works by the Late G. F. Watts, R.A., O.M., 1905, p.44
Around 1889 George Frederick and his wife Mary became the legal guardians of a ten-year old girl named Lilian Macintosh, after the death of her father. Mary and George had no children of their own and 'Lily' was a great blessing to the couple, remaining with them until her marriage to Michael Chapman. Several portraits of Lilian by Watts are known to exist including a delicate head at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool painted in 1895 and a distantly related sketch at the Watts Gallery. The present painting was made in 1897 and captures a much bolder aspect of the beautiful young lady's appearance, with an unusually colourful background suggestive of the joy she brought to her adopted parents. An oil sketch for this portrait is known (Sotheby's, Belgravia, 23 March 1981, lot 82).
A later three-quarter length portrait of Lilian was one of Watts last pictures, painted in 1904 (Mary Watts, George Frederic Watts: Annals of an Artist's Life, MS catalogue of her husband's work, 1912, vol. 2, p.314) and exhibited posthumously at the Winter Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1905. Lilian Chapman died in 1972 aged ninety three.
The present portrait is unusual in that Lilian is posed against a beautiful cobalt sky, her youth and purity emphasised by the healthy suggestion of the outdoors.
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