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Frances Watt - Set of Five Mid 20th Century Portrait Studies

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Frances Watt - Set of Five Original Mid 20th Century Pen and Ink Drawing. Two artworks in pen and ink and three further drawings in graphite. The largest measures (14 x 12.5 cm) and the smallest (8 x 9.5 cm) Unsigned. On wove. Condition is typical for a picture of this age including some discolouration to page. There are some stickers stuck to the front of two of the graphite drawings but the stickers are in the corner and do not interfere with the main image. There is a fold crease to the drawing of a man in a top hat.


13 x 13cm (5.1" x 5.1")

Collection Information

From a large collection of work by Frances Watt which has been in storage in Aberdeen for 20 years. Direct from the artist’s estate. Many of the works are dated and inscribed but few are signed. The provenance is absolute, and everything in this collection is undoubtedly by her hand. Certificate of Authenticity available for each work.

(Edith) Frances Watt was an immensely talented artist who never received the attention she deserved. Watt was born in Falkirk in 1923 and moved to Geneva at the age of 3 where she lived until 1936 when she was 13. Her father was the Reverend Thomas M Watt, DD. He was minister of the Scots Church in Geneva and was the League of Nations correspondent for British Weekly. We believe Frances is the youngest girl in the photograph shown. They then moved back to Ballater, Scotland until 1938 when her father died.

Watt then aged 15 moved to Highgate in London (Southwood Lawn Road) with her mother, with whom she lived for the rest of her life. By then she was calling herself Frances. She attended the Hornsey School of Art (1946) and the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting.

Things then went quiet and we have found no works dated between 1946 and 1953. She then began work on a series of works with religious themes – unsurprising, in that her father and two of her uncles were prominent churchmen. She was active in the Highgate Choral Society.

Things got really interesting in the 1960’s. She was commissioned by the Council of the Stock Exchange to record the daily life in the Square Mile. The City paintings she did were very highly thought of at the time but the style fell out of favour. The paintings were featured in a set of postcards in the 1960s. She participated in a joint exhibition of 6 Highgate artists about that time – see photograph of poster.

During the 1960s her paintings and illustrations of the “old” Stock Exchange were included in the Stock Exchange Journal, the Times newspaper and the Lord Mayor’s Art Awards exhibition. Our collection includes views of Lloyds, the Royal Exchange, and The Discount Market as well. There are a large number of drawings done for the Times. Watt moved back to Perth (Myrtle Cottage, Main St, Bankfoot) in Nov 1992. The latest work in our collection is dated 1993 and we have no information after that date. We believe this collection has been in storage from about that date.

Why was Watt not better known in her life time? Surely it was not for lack of ability. We believe it was a marketing failure. She was raised in a patriarchal home, never married, always lived with her mother, was never represented by a gallery, and probably never properly promoted her own work. Perhaps now is her time.

Sulis Fine Art Historian Olivia Nicholls has written an article about Frances Watt, read Artist Spotlight: Discovering the forgotten Frances Watt here.

And click here for our full collection of Frances Watt

More Information
Code nu725
Artist Frances Watt
Date Mid 20th Century
Dimensions 13 x 13cm
Medium Pen and Ink
Style Realism
Subject Portrait
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