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John Dawson Watson (1832-1892). 'The Garden Seat' 1858 

Oil on panel. Monogramed and dated. 

Image 30x24cm. In Gilt frame 50x45cm

(Reference 523) Price: £8,500

Colnaghi, Bond Street label and Collection label to reverse.


This painting by Watson is extraordinary in its clarity of execution.  The girl’s face is almost luminescent and radiates youth, beauty and hope.  She seems to be engaged in a game of ‘he loves me, he loves me not...’ with the petals of a flower, while her Border Terrier dog, looks on watchfully.  Her dog, (a creature often seen as representing faithfulness), is on guard and appears to have seen someone approaching.  The dog shows caution and a hint of suspicion: this interloper may be us, the spectator, or the Lover, (whom the girl seeks to discover whether his love is true).  There is so much to say about this fantastic work of immense skill, beauty and delicate charm. The wonderfully depicted terrier, faithful at his mistress’ feet; the silk of the girl’s dress, which manages to illustrate the nature of silk as it shimmers and changes hue in the light; the skill of the composition, allowing us to glimpse the girl’s private world of hope and expectation; the extravagant and fecund verdure, forming the girl’s secret bower... This picture deserves a lifetime of enjoyment and appreciation. 


This wonderful work has a Collection label on the reverse for Henry Boddington, (1811-65), who was a member of the Williams dynasty of artists. Boddington’s work was a favourite of John Ruskin, who praised his works for their ‘honesty’.  Perhaps it was this ‘honesty’ in his own work which led him to add ‘The Garden Seat’, to his private Collection.  John Dawson Watson, was born in Sedbergh, Yorkshire. He studied at the Manchester School of Design and at the Royal Academy schools. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, (1835-90); the British Institution, (in Pall Mall, a rival to the RA); Royal Society of British Artists at Suffolk Street, London;  the Old Watercolour Society, the Grosvenor Gallery, (a favourite of Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites); and elsewhere. His pictures are usually small, on panel or board and show a Pre-Raphaelite feeling for colour and detail. He was also a proflific and notable illustrator, producing many designs for books and periodicals, including Watts ‘Divine and Moral Songs’ and ‘The Arabian Nights’. 

Works by Watson are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Norwich and Liverpool.  His brother was Thomas J.Watson, with whom he lived and worked in Milford, Surrey. Watson’s brother-in-law was Myles Birket Foster, for whom he worked on the decoration of Foster’s house in Witley, Surrey, including making designs for the furniture. 


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