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George Frederic Watts (1817 - 1904)

The Ideal

A1286; oil on paper laid on board; 31 x 23 cm

Prov: Kerrison Preston

Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax from the estate of Miss Jean Preston and allocated to the Ashmolean Museum, 2008.; WA2008.16

Towards the end of his time in Italy between 1843 and 1847, Watts worked on a large painting of Orlando pursuing the Fata Morgana, which he later gave to Leicester Museum and Art Gallery. The subject was taken from the Boiardo's epic poem Orlando innamorato (1495) and shows the knight Orlando in pursuit of the nymph Fata Morgana, who holds the key to release his companions.

The sketch, rapidly painted in oils, was presumably made in preparation for the larger picture, which follows its composition closely.