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Amy Watt Artist

Amy Watt, London c1947,  Watercolour by her daughter Mary Millar Watt.

Amy Watt (née Maulby Biggs. 1900-1956) attended Plymouth School of Art and St Martin’s in London.  There she met the artist John Millar Watt and they were married in 1923.  They had two children, Mary and George.

She exhibited at the RA almost every year of her professional life, gaining recognition for her use of colour in landscape and her extravagant and large flowerpieces.  Millar and Amy left London for Dedham in Essex when first married.   Their daughter Mary was born the following year and Millar began to form plans to build a house with a studio.  Millar’s cartoon creation POP, plus the demand for his illustration, allowed him to build that house. 

Their move to the country was supported by a convenient train line into London and Miillar in particular, was able to send stocks of POP drawings directly to the newspaper via rail.  After a few years renting accomodation in the High Street of Dedham, Millar 

encountered a farmer and asked to buy a parcel of land, upon which he built a house incorporating some innovative building materials and incorporating a vast studio which occupied most of the first floor.  The family settled for some years and the couple's son George was born there in 1931.

Millar Watt Studio in Dedham 1928

The Studio, Dedham c 1928.  The modernist house that Millar built with vast studio windows overlooking the vale of Dedham.  It was one of the first houses in Britain to use prefabricated roof trusses from Scandinavia.  Millar sits with his legs dangling over the parapet, Amy on a garden bench watching over Mary in her oft-painted pink bonnet. 

Rookery Farm by Amy Watt 1924

Rookery Farm.  Amy Watt.  Oil on Canvas  c1924.  Millar bought a large piece of land to build their house and studio.  Both Amy and her husband painted the nearby medieval farmhouse and outbuildings, and the vale beyond their own field that Constable had painted before them.

Amy and Millar exhibited regularly with the Ipswich Art Club whose seasonal shows gathered an exceptional group of artists from the locale : Edward Seago, Anna Airy, Lucy Harwood, Cedric Morris, Leonard Squirrel, Alfred Munnings and so many others.  Some of these families were neighbours and regular guests at the Watt’s table; Amy happened to be a good cook and the Watts were generous hosts.  Visitors were often so keen to extend their stays at The Studio that Millar and Amy sometimes found it difficult to work, once even booking a cruise in mid-winter to avoid having to put out their guests.

Tea with Mary by Amy Watt

Tea with Mary ,The Studio, Dedham

Mary in a pink bonnet by her mother Amy Watt

Mary in a Pink Bonnet.  A pink gingham dress and sunbonnet were evidently thought very cute on the young Mary as her fond parents painted and photographed her in it on numerous occasions.

Amy Watt Artist
Amy Watt Artist
Amy Watt Artist

Portrait of A Woman.  Probably Amy’s friend Olive Lucas.  Painted at The Studio,  by Amy Watt

Art College portrait of a young man.

Interior, Martigues, France.  One of the few holidays Millar and Amy took, a Mediterranean cruise.

As hostilities increased in Europe, the Watts moved to Windsor, then Devon, then eventually St Ives, Cornwall.  Accomodation was difficult to find at first; as war seemed increasingly likely, many had the idea of fleeing from the cities.  However, Millar bought a new house that overlooked Carbis Bay from the peninsula.  Here Amy settled into the artistic life of the area, taking a studio overlooking the harbour and exhibiting with the St Ives Art Society.  

Amy Watt Artist

Anemones.   Treloyhan, St Ives.  Oil on Panel.

Amy Watt Artist

Little Bird Vase - Autumn 1931.  One of three seasonal studies  (there is no 'Winter') of flower posies in the artist’s little Chelsea vase.  The style was typical of Amy’s formal flowerpieces.

Amy fell ill in the early 1950s after having fallen badly from a London bus.  She painted vigorously until the last year or so of her life, putting emphasis on exhibiting, still at the Royal Academy and also further afield, having successful shows at the Walker Galleries and the Paris Salon in the years before her early death aged 56,  in London. 

Amy Watt Artist
Amy Watt Artist
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