George Frederic Watts O.M., R.A.
Head study for Justice, A Hemicycle of Lawgivers
Black chalk on buff paper
Numbered ‘8.’, lower right
19 ⅛ x 12 ¾ in.
(48.6 x 32.4 cm.)
Watts was commissioned to paint a fresco for the Great Hall of Lincoln's Inn in the mid 1850s, following his conception of a mural of Edmund Spenser's The Triumph of the Red Cross Knight for the new Palace of Westminster in 1852.
The Lincoln's Inn project was vast, some 45 feet wide and 40 feet high, filling the north wall. Watts has gathered the great lawmakers and decision makers from throughout history in a composition which depicts twenty-four named figures, including Solon, Draco, Moses, and Confucius, and ten others, including monks, scribes, and a druid. Many of the figures are based on studies of Watts's friends.