Arts & Culture


George Frederic Watts1886

Tate Britain
Tate Britain

In the Bible (Hebrews, 6:19), hope is 'an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.' Here, Hope is blindfolded, seated on a globe and playing a lyre of which all but one of the strings are broken. Watts wanted to find an original approach to allegory on universal themes. But Hope's attempts to make music appear futile and several critics argued that the work might have been more appropriately titled Despair. Watts explained that 'Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music which can come from the remaining chord'.

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