The Good Samaritan

George Frederick Watts, 1817 - 1904

The Good Samaritan

George Frederick Watts 1817 - 1904


Very large painting of a subject taken from the New Testament: a man from Samaria helps a traveller in distress when others who had seen him passed by on the other side. A semi-conscious man, naked but for a loin cloth and a cloth covering his hair, is being helped up by another man, the Samaritan, who stands on the right. The Samaritan is dressed in a long sleeved white garment, with a red sash, and white leggings tied with red cord. He supports the injured traveller by holding his right arm, putting his hand round his waist, and taking his weight with his right leg. The injured traveller rests his head on the Samaritan’s chest. Both men have a muscular physique. The bowed head of an ass carrying a load can be seen in the bottom right corner. The scene is set against a background of bare rocks and grey-white sky. A Watts-style frame of gilt wood with raised floral moulding at the inner and outer edges.

Display Label

The Good Samaritan 1850 George Frederick Watts 1817-1904 Oil on canvas This Biblical subject is from Luke's Gospel. Thieves attack a Jewish traveller and leave him injured by the side of the road. He is ignored by two passing Jews before a Samaritan comes to his aid. Here the Samaritan helps the victim to his feet. Watts presented the work to the people of Manchester in admiration of Thomas Wright, a local worker, whose life was devoted to caring for prisoners. The painting hung in the old Town Hall on King Street, where it stood as an example to Mancunians. For Watts, art retained a high moral purpose. This is communicated through his heroic painting style which is based on the art of Italian old masters. He particularly admired Michelangelo (1475-1564), whose work he studied in Italy between 1843-1847. Transferred from the Royal Manchester Institution 1882.149

Object Name

The Good Samaritan

Creators Name

George Frederick Watts

Date Created



Canvas: 254.7cm x 189.2cm
Frame: 308cm x 241cm
Measured on wall approx: 311cm x 244cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[G5] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 5
View all


Gift of Mr George Frederick Watts


© Manchester Art Gallery

Fill out my online form.