Jim's Reviews > G.F. Watts

G.F. Watts by G.K. Chesterton
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Feb 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: chesterton, art
Read from February 15 to 16, 2012

I would wager that some of you who are reading this do not know who G K Chesterton was, and I am virtually certain that even fewer have ever heard of the Victorian painter George Frederick Watts. Just for the record, he is the artist who painted Hope, as shown at the following website: http://www.culture24.org.uk/asset_are...

G F Watts was one of Chesterton's earliest works, being published in 1904, and it is one of his most obscure. Yet for all that it is genial and approachable like all his best work. Writing about Hope, he says:
He [the painter] would see something for which there is neither speech nor language, which has been too vast for any eye to see and too secret for any religion to utter, even as an esoteric doctrine. Standing before that picture, he finds himself in the presence of a great truth. He perceives that there is something in man which is always apparently on the verge of disappearing, but never disappears, an assurance which is always apparently saying farewell and yet illimitably lingers, a string which is forever stretched to snapping yet never snaps. He perceives that the queerest and most delicate thing in us, the most fragile, the most fantastic, is in truth the backbone and indestructible.
Chesterton's writing reminds us that he studied at the Slade School of Art, that he was a noted illustrator in his own right. (See, especially, The Coloured Lands.)

Comparing Watts to Gladstone, Chesterton notes that "they knew that not only life, but every detail of life, is most a pleasure when it is studied with the gloomiest intensity." This is no mere idle paradox: the painter's Hope is, from one point of view, gloomy; from another, it is incredibly optimistic. But then, Chesterton is like that. I regard him as a great teacher -- one who always leads me by strangely diverse paths to realization and contentment.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Mary Ronan (new)

Mary Ronan Drew Chesterton makes an extraordinary comment about Watts' painting. It is always worthwhile to read Chesterton on any subject. He's underappreciated.


message 2: by Justeenetta (new)

Justeenetta you know what, I don't think I've ever read chesterton after all. thinking of waugh. will remedy, I like conversion stories, is his good?


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Chesterton is always worth reading.


message 4: by Justeenetta (new)

Justeenetta the bookmobile people says I'll have a father brown vol 1st th


message 5: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim OK, tell me what you think.


message 6: by Miriam (new)

Miriam some of you who are reading this do not know who G K Chesterton was, and I am virtually certain that even fewer have ever heard of the Victorian painter George Frederick Watts.

I am a fan of both but had no idea the one had written about the other!


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