George Spencer Watson ROI, ARA, RA (1869-1934)

Artist Name George Spencer Watson ROI, ARA, RA (1869-1934)
Title My Lady of the Rose - Portrait of Hilda, the Artist's Wife
Description This superb British exhibited portrait oil painting is by noted artist George Spencer Watson. The influence of Lord Frederick Leighton and the Italian Renaissance can easily be seen. Entitled My Lady of the Rose, the sitter is his much loved wife, Hilda Gardiner. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy London in 1911 and has been handed down through the family. Watson also painted Hilda's two sisters, Elsie and Lillian and the family likeness is apparent. Known affectionately as 'Ginger', Hilda was a classical violinist trained in Europe. As a dancer and mime artist, Hilda was heavily influenced by the free form Greek style of Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan. Her passion for dancing continued until the end of her life. She regularly organised and took part in performances both in London and later in the theatre that she built at Dunshay Manor, the Spencer Watsons's home on the Isle of Purbeck. 

The symbolic title for the portrait 'My Lady of the Rose' reflects the artist's deep reverence for Hilda. The symbolism of the Rose as a symbol of love but also of new beginnings, an appropriate theme for the portrait painted in 1909, to celebrate his marriage to the sitter.

The figures in the background perhaps reflect both the sitter and artist's interest in mythology and the arts. A winged figure fires an arrow which strikes another figure on whose belt the artist has signed his initials. The vibrant blues and reds and the fantastic brushwork and delicate detail in Hilda's face make this a stunning, deeply personal portrait of a much loved wife.

Signed GSW upper right. 
Provenance The Royal Academy, 1911 no.368 entitled My Lady of the Rose. 

Bermondsey Settlement Picture Exhibition, 1913, label verso.

Dresden exhibition label verso.

William Harold Gardiner, ; Joan Gardiner (in Australia); Robin Tassell, of Dovehouse Stanwick, Northants; 

Richard Thompson & Mary Spencer Watson; Thence by descent.
Medium Oil on Canvas
Size 34 x 44 inches
Frame Housed in a beautiful original gilt frame, 51 inches by 41 inches, in good condition.
Condition Good condition.
Biography George Spencer Watson, ROI, RP, ARA, RA (1869-1934) Born in London the son of a surgeon, George Spencer Watson trained as an artist at St. John's Wood and The Royal Academy Schools from 1889. He was an English portrait artist of the late romantic school who sometimes worked in the style of the Italian Renaissance. Exhibiting at the RA from 1891, George Spencer Watson's best Edwardian portraits show a controlled aestheticism and display the influence of John Singer Sargent. Although his earlier preference had been to paint subject pictures in the tradition of Lord Leighton and George Frederick Watts, Spencer Watson's later success as a society portraitist led to a steady stream of commissions. After 1900 Spencer Watson began exhibiting regularly at The Royal Academy, at The New Gallery and at The Society of Portrait painters of which he became an active member. Until the First World War he also exhibited at the Paris Salon regularly until the 1914 War, and he had a one man touring show in 1912. In 1909 he married Hilda Mary Gardiner, a dancer and mime artist, and follower of the actor Edward Gordon Craig. They had a daughter, Mary Spencer Watson (1913–2006), who became a sculptor. In the year of 1923 he bought Dunshay Manor in the hills of the Isle of Purbeck, after already having spent holidays in nearby Swanage. He died in London at age 65 and a memorial exhibition was held at the Fine Art Society in the same year. There is a memorial to him in the north vestibule of St James's Church, Piccadilly. Some of his works are held at Tate Britain, the Harris Art Gallery, Preston and collections in Bournemouth, Liverpool, Plymouth and the National Gallery of Canada. Born in London, Watson studied at the Royal Academy from 1889; he exhibited there from 1891 and also at the Paris salon. Retrospective exhibitions were held at the Galerie Heinemann, Munich in 1912, and at the Fine Art Society in 1914. His work A Lady in Black (1922) is owned by the Tate Collection.
Price £120000
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