The biography of Frederick William Watts (1800 - 1870)

Frederick William Watts (1800 - 1870) was English painter of quintessential landscapes. He was greatly influenced by John Constable. For many years Watts was Constable’s neighbour in Hampstead and doubtless attended his lectures held in the Assembly Rooms in June 1833 and July 1836. Both Constable and Watts were determined to break away from the traditional form of eighteenth century painting, and paint the effects of natural lighting from nature.

Watts was born in 1800. For most of his life his home was in Hampstead, where in 1821 he established a studio in the High Street. Watts remained in Hampstead for 10 years before moving to Camden Town in 1831 and finally to Haverstock Hill seven years later, where he spent the remaining 32 years of his life. Watts travelled extensively through England and Wales, and also for a period of time on the Continent.

As far as it is known, Watts painted only a small number of Continental subjects during the late 1820’s, his preference being given to English scenery. Often he painted outdoors and was particularly interested in depicting locks, water mills and river scenes.

Little is known of his life, but the large number of paintings he exhibited attests to his success. He exhibited mainly at the Royal Academy between 1821 and 1860 (the first of 76 paintings), the British Institution between 1823 and 1862 (108 paintings), at the Suffolk Street Galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists from 1830 (65 paintings) and the National Watercolour Society. Many of his paintings were unsigned, occasionally bear initials, but can easily be recognised by his distinctive style.