Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Mandela chose my distant relative G F Watts' painting 'Hope' for his prison wall

Hope by George Frederic Watts

In Gordon Brown's moving tribute to Nelson Mandela he mentioned that Nelson Mandela hung on his Robben Island prison cell wall, a facsimile of the above painting by British pre-Raphaelite artist G F Watts. I am indirectly related to G F Watts on my mother's side. It's good to know that a (very) distant relative of mine helped inspire the fortitude and hope of Nelson Mandela while he was cruelly imprisoned by the Apartheid state. Interesting to note too that 'Hope' is also said to be President Obama's favourite painting.

Gordon Brown said in the House of Commons on Thursday 9 December:

"Hung by Mandela on the bare walls of that bleak prison cell was a facsimile of the British painting by a famous artist, Frederic Watts. The haunting image he had in this prison cell was of a blinded girl sitting on top of a globe of the world. The painting, entitled “Hope”, is about the boldness of a girl to believe that, even when blinded and even with a broken harp and only one string, she could still play music. Her and Mandela’s belief was that even in the most difficult and bleak of times, even when things seem hopeless, there could still be hope. I believe that that explains why over these past few days we have both mourned the death of Mandela and celebrated his life with equal intensity. Who else could unite the whole world of sport unanimously, in every continent of the world, with applause? We are mourning because as long as Mandela was alive we knew that even in the worst of disasters, amidst the most terrible of tragedies and conflict, amidst the evil that existed in the world, there was someone there, standing between us and the elements, who represented goodness and nobility. And we are celebrating today because the lessons that we have learned from him will live on. He teaches us that indeed no injustice can last for ever. He teaches us that whenever good people of courage come together, there is infinite hope".

You can find out more about G F Watts at the Watts Gallery.

More about the painting 'Hope'.

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