Time (after Vouet, 1645; featuring James)

$ 80,000 AUD


80 x 85 cm / 32” x 34”

102 x 106 cm / 40” x 42”

Oil on board
Signed lower left

Collection, the Artist


This exceptional new painting is one of Ross Watson’s most accomplished and detailed large scale paintings to date. The work explores the narrative of Time, referencing Simon Vouet's Baroque masterpiece Time Vanquished by Love, Hope and Fame, 1645.

An astonishingly dramatic scene has been skilfully developed and reinforced by Watson’s extension of the left side of the composition of the classical picture. The addition of James, who hovers suspended, transfixed by the drama unfolding below brilliantly transforms Vouet's semi circular composition to a dynamic complete circle.

During the lock downs associated with the pandemic, Watson has utilised this period to reflect. Returning again and again to the themes of Time, Love and Hope, This led to the painting’s concept and narrative which materialised during Melbourne's lock down last October as he spotted the model James in a park exercising on Olympic rings.

Vouet's allegorical composition depicts six classical figures. The foreground features an elderly man representing Time. A cherub torments him pulling at his wing, and Love and Hope in the centre pull at his hair and wing. Above them Fame calls for eternal public and social recognition from her horn. Watson's introduction of James, with his athleticism, hope and ambition is the embodiment of Youth. His life, as with his gaze, in full swing, stretching out ahead of him as he observes the mythological scene. The introduction of this youthful figure, contrasts the finality of Vouet’s original composition and reimagines a narrative of life that is cyclical and continuing.

A Parisian, Vouet began his career in Italy. Similarly to Watson, his earlier works reflect the influence of Caravaggio, and features the characteristic dramatic contrast in light and shadow present in this work, which is considered one of his greatest.

Reviewing Watson’s past classical works, Time possesses not only exceptional composition and theatrical drama, but also the most varied and richly dazzling colour palette. As the artist approaches his 60th year, this arresting and important artwork marks the entry into the late stage of his career.

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