(1845 – 1932)
Signed lower right
17 x 24 cms
Provenance: Southgate Gallery, May 1982. Exhibited at the Royal Academy, catalogue no. 923, 1899
Albert Goodwin was born in Maidstone, England in 1845, just three years before
the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded, and two years after the publication
of Ruskin’s first volume of Modern Painters. These dates are significant because
it was in the artistic circles generated by Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites
that Goodwin developed as an artist – first in the studio of Arthur Hughes,
then under the supervision of FM Brown, and finally as a protégé of Ruskin.
Although the Pre-Raphaelites were not primarily landscape painters, their
views on ‘truth to nature’, and their practice of working directly from nature
for the landscape settings of their pictures, inevitably influenced most contemporary
landscape painters in the 1850s and 1860s; and in his Notes on Prout and Hunt,
Ruskin quite rightly described Goodwin’s work as having been ‘founded first
on strong Pre-Raphaelite veracities…’. Goodwin was, in fact, extremely fortunate
in being taught by Brown, who is by far the most original and interesting
of the landscape painters associated with the Pre-Raphaelite circle; however,
despite Brown’s devotion to the concept of truth to nature, and working sur
le motif, his landscapes are, in the final analysis, strangely artificial
– reminiscent of the magical realism of Palmer’s Shoreham period rather than
the naturalism of Constable, Cox or De Wint. Similarly, Goodwin’s landscapes
are invariably infused with a poetic charm that raises them above mere description;
indeed, one critic complimented him for having that ‘peculiar faculty of painting
a natural scene with an undercurrent of supernatural feeling’.
Like Turner, Goodwin was a master of all the techniques used in watercolour painting, employing at various times and not infrequently all together watercolour, pen and ink, chalk, pastel and gum, on white or tinted papers, with the whole sometimes neatly enclosed in a beautifully designed, hand-painted border. In order to achieve the subtle lighting effects associated with dawn and sunset – his favourite times of the day – he wiped and scraped and ‘…hammered at them with the blade of a safety-razor, a knife, sandpaper, sponge, rag, and a fitch brush.
Goodwin was a prolific artist, producing over eight-hundred works and continuing to paint well into his eighties. His wide variety of landscape subjects reflected his love of travel.