George Frederic Watts, The Dweller in the Innermost

Tate Gallery, London

Date: c. 1885-6
Technique: Oil on canvas, 1060 x 698 mm

Watts first called this painting The Soul’s Prism; the title only took its final form in 1893. A winged female figure gazes intently out of the picture through an atmospheric mandorla of iridescent orange light. Her forehead is crowned with a brilliant white star nestling at the centre of two red wings.

In the catalogue to the 1896 retrospective of his work, Watts suggested that this ethereal figure ‘may be vaguely called conscience... on her lap lie the arrows that pierce through all disguise, and the trumpet which proclaims truth to the world’.


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