A Greek Idyll

George Frederick Watts, 1817 - 1904

A Greek Idyll

George Frederick Watts 1817 - 1904


A depiction of naked lovers, Acis and Galatea, on the right, bathing at the edge of a river. The shepherd Acis is leaning against a rocky bank to the right, his arm around Galatea who moves to embrace him from the left. A second female figure in the water to left holds aloft one hand, her gaze directed upwards, her hair caught in her outstretched hand. The whole group is surrounded by swimming and bathing cherubs.

Display Label

A Greek Idyll 1894 George Frederic Watts 1817-1904 Oil on canvas This painting has the alternative title Acis and Galatea. Galatea was a sea nymph who was desired by the cyclops Polyphemus. She loved the beautiful Sicilian shepherd Acis. When Polyphemus crushed his rival with a rock, Galatea transformed Acis’s gushing blood into a river at the base of Mount Etna. The story is told by Roman poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses. Galatea’s fellow nymphs are more like a family of chubby toddlers than a band of sirens. Watts himself was aware of this comic aspect to his water babies: he painted a version of the small nymph in the bottom left with the title ‘Afloat’! Bequeathed by John Edward Yates 1934.412

Object Name

A Greek Idyll

Creators Name

George Frederick Watts

Date Created



framed: 123.2cm x 158.3cm
unframed: 91cm x 125.7cm

accession number


Place of creation





Oil Paint


Bequeathed by John Edward Yates


© Manchester Art Gallery

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