TENNYSON, ALFRED, Lord (1809-1892, poet) PORTRAIT BY SIR FRANK SHORT R.A., P.R.E. (1857-1945) AFTER
Lot 159
TENNYSON, ALFRED, Lord (1809-1892, poet, Port Laureate) PORTRAIT BY SIR FRANK SHORT R.A., P.R.E. (1857-1945) AFTER GEORGE FREDERIC WATTS O.M., R.A. (1817-1904),
Sold for £360 (US$ 587) inc. premium

Lot Details
TENNYSON, ALFRED, Lord (1809-1892, poet, Port Laureate)
PORTRAIT BY SIR FRANK SHORT R.A., P.R.E. (1857-1945) AFTER GEORGE FREDERIC WATTS O.M., R.A. (1817-1904),
mezzotint, proof before lettering, half-length, signed in pencil below the image by both G.F. Watts and Frank Short, the original portrait signed on the image and dated 1859, [printed by Robert Dunthorne at the Rembrandt Head, Vigo Street], on Japan paper, 15/3/4 x 111/2 in (40 x 29.2 cm), plate.

Footnotes

  • REFERENCES: Veronica Franklin Gould, G.F. Watts: The Last Victorian, 2004; Barbara Bryant, G.F. Watts Portraits, 2004. See also under Dobson in this catalogue.

    This 1903 work is often regarded as the best portrait of Tennyson by Watts, and Watts himself spoke of it as the great work of his life. It was dubbed in the Prinsep circle as the 'great moonlight portrait.' While the original, now at Eastnor Castle, was being painted Tennyson is said to have asked Watts what was in his mind when he painted a portrait, and to have embodied the reply in his poem 'Lancelot and Elaine' (see Introduction - quotations). It was the first portrait of his that was put on public exhibition and the first one ever to have been engraved (1862).

    Watts was a passionate admirer of Tennyson and his work; they were near neighbours and collaborated over a fifty year period. Of one of his later portraits of Tennyson Watts explained: 'What I try for is the half-unconscious insistence upon the nobilities of the subject.' Martin Hardie, The Mezzotints and Engravings of Sir Frank Short, states that Short took early proofs of his mezzotints to show Watts at Limnerslease his country house near Guildford. Watts was the first artistic recipient of the Order of Merit.
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