Our chairman, Anna Somers Cocks, and the curator Nicholas Tromans with Watts's Diana and Apollo mural
It seems that Hitler’s favourite architect Albert Speer found the art of Victorian artist George Frederick Watts to his taste. The exhibition at the Watts Gallery near Guildford, south of London, about Watt’s mural paintings (until 5 November) includes this Diana and Apollo executed to decorate the dining room of Virginia, Countess Somers’s London house, 7 Carlton House Terrace. This later became the German embassy and photographs taken just before the Second World War show the room remodeled in Speer’s pared away classical style, but with Watts’s picture cycle of the Elements carefully framed. Perdita Hunt, the outgoing director of the Watts Gallery, who has done an astonishing resurrection job on this artists’ village, has cleverly roped in the support of the descendants of the many Victorians painted by Watts, which is how our chairman, Anna Somers Cocks, comes to be photographed here, with curator Nicholas Tromans, after having made the opening speech. In it, she admitted that Watts’s mural paintings were not his greatest legacy (she rates him first, for his sculptures, second for his drawings and paintings), but that they need to be studied for a complete understanding of an artist who could reach great heights and who was so venerated in his time that the Metropolitan Museum’s first ever exhibition dedicated to a living artist was given over to him.