OIL PAINTING: The Wife of Pygmalion, A Translation from the Greek, 1868
In The Wife of Pygmalion, Watts set out to demonstrate the correspondence he believed existed between classical Greek sculpture and Venetian Renaissance painting. While the form possesses the solidity and restraint of the Phidian ideal, the subtle modulations of colour and the compositional formula bear homage to Venetian painting, a combination of features which can also be seen in Watts's other half length figures of the 1860s, The Wife of Plutus, Rhodophis and Clytie. The word 'translation' in the title thus intends an aim beyond archaeological restoration, suggesting an aesthetic concern to see one medium transposed into another. In particular, Watts was attempting to revive and fuse the way Greek sculptors used drapery to reveal underlying form, together with the partial-clothing of the figure seen in Venetian pictures of beloved women. In so doing he was inviting comparison with both Apelles and Titian, the latter having himself attempted a re-creation of the Greek painter's lost Aphrodite with his Venus Anadyomene of around 1520, in the Sutherland Collection.