An arch-Victorian, Watts produced numerous variants of Love and Death and other allegorical compositions during a long career.
His Tennyson portrait, dating from about 1858, is one of a large group of depictions of famous contemporaries, many of them his acquaintances, known as the “Hall of Fame,” now regarded by many as his greatest achievement. Shortly before he died, Watts donated some 150 of these portraits to the National Portrait Gallery in London.
For general comments on Watts, see e.g. Wood Victorian Painters (1995), vol.2, pp.52-55. His portraits of eminent Victorians were featured in an exhibition at the Watts Gallery (Guildford, Surrey), 7 Feb. – 3 June 2012: see http://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/exhibition/gallery-exhibition/2011/09/08/gf-watts-hall-fame and Mark Bills, “Watts’s Hall of Fame: Devout and Ethereal Caricature”: http://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/devout-ethereal-caricature. The “Hall of Fame” portraits were also the subject of the 2014 Ursula Hoff Lecture, given at the University of Melbourne on 16 June 2014, by Dr Barbara Bryant: see http://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/4138-fame-and-beauty-in-victorian-society-portraits-by-george-frederic