|This sketch of a seated woman was probably carried out at Little Holland House, the home of Sara and Henry Thoby Prinsep, The drawing possibly depicts Mrs Prinsep's sister Lady Dalrymple, née Sophie Pattle.|
|In 1851 Watts, already suffering from the bouts of ill-health and 'nervous fever' which would continue throughout his life, took refuge in the Prinsep household. Between 1851 -1875 he lived with Sara Prinsep, her husband Henry and their children at Little Holland House in Kensington. Sara Prinsep famously described the artist as a houseguest who came to visit for three days and stayed for nearly thirty years. |
Sara was one of the seven Pattle sisters whose number included Lady Somers, a celebrated society beauty, and the pioneering photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. The Prinsep's bohemian social circle also included writers, artists and actors including Tennyson, Thackeray, Leighton, Rossetti and Ellen Terry (to whom Watts was briefly married). Watts habitually drew and painted both friends and members of the Prinsep family and he was encouraged to adorn the walls of Little Holland House and Carlton House Terrace (the home of Lord and Lady Somers) with frescoes.
|These seven delicate drawings of women and children in contemporary Victorian dress, are almost certainly portraits of members and friends of the Prinsep family, with whom G. F. Watts lived for nearly thirty years. |
According to the artist's second wife, Mary SetonWatts, when he lived in the Prinsep household during the 1850s the artist 'carried in his pocket a small notebook of indelible paper with a metal point in the sheath, and when his eye fell on any particularly beautiful arrangement in posture or line he would call out, with a gesture of his hand, "Oh, pray, stay where you are for a moment," and the notebook was taken out to receive a monumental outline on the tiny page. These drawings, perhaps the least well known of his artistic expressions, may be placed, I venture to say, beside his greatest. They are chiefly drawn from Mrs. Prinsep, Lady Dalrymple, Mrs. Jackson and her three daughters Adeline, Julia and Mary, who from their childhood were much at Little Holland House'. (from Mary S. Watts, The Annals of an Artist's Life, London, 1912, Vol I, p. 157-8)