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Friday, May 16, 2014

Frederick Goodall

The Waters of the Nile, Frederick Goodall

Frederick Goodall Self-portrait,
Art dynasties are not all that common but where they have existed they tend to fascinate me. In the U.S., we had the Peale family in Philadelphia and later, the Wyeth's of Brandywine. In France, the Pissarro family has long been a major name in Impressionism. In England, it's the Goodall family of artists, starting with the engraver Edward Goodall born in 1794, and four of his ten children, Edward A., Walter, Frederick, and their sister, Eliza. The next generation included Frederick Goodall's sons, F. Trevelyan, and Howard, as well as a nephew, John Edward. The third generation includes Edward A. Goodall's grandson, Canadian artist Edward Goodall, and his brother, the art restorer, Stewart Goodall. Judging from the extensive family tree, the Goodall's were quite prolific in more than just art. One of the most prolific (seven children) and the most prolific artist of all these was Frederick Goodall.

Travelers Resting in a Tavern, 1852, Frederick Goodall--a pre-Egyptian painting.
Leaving a Church in Brittany, 1840.
Goodall was 18 at the time.

Frederick Goodall was born in 1822 and garnered his first art commission at the tender age of sixteen when the famed, British engineer, Isambard Brunel, hired him to paint six watercolors of the ill-fated Rotherhithe Tunnel then under construction (the first tunnel in history to go under a navigable waterway). By the age of thirty, Goodall was an associate member of the Royal Academy, having exhibited their regularly since his teen years. Most of his work during this period consisted of portraits and genre scenes of British life (above). His work was good, if in no way outstanding, quite typical, except for his youth, of British painters of the mid-19th century.

The Finding of Moses, 1862,
Frederick Goodall
Goodall's big break came in 1858 when a group of friends invited him to accompany them to Egypt. While there, he set up a studio in Cairo when the German watercolorist, Carl Haag, while also venturing out into the wilderness landscape, often living among Bedouin tribesmen, painting and drawing like a couple wild-eyed tourists just about everything they encountered. Egypt and the Arab native population were exotic, colorful, and loaded with background material for religious paintings, all of which were quite popular back home in England. Goodall stayed in Egypt for seven months of high times and hair-raising adventure. At one time the two of them barely avoided being stoned for drawing portraits in the marketplace. In the end, he packed up hundreds of drawings and watercolors as well as 130 oil sketches, sandwiched between buttered paper to keep them from sticking to one another. His Waters of the Nile (top) is likely one of this group. These he shipped back to London while accompanying Haag to Jerusalem for another month.

The Flight into Egypt, 1885, Frederick Goodall (one of two versions)
An architect's drawing of Goodall's
Graeme's Dyke, 1870
During the next ten years Goodall was a spectacularly successful artists, earning as much as ten-thousand pounds per year (a massive sum at the time). He painting little else other than scenes from Egypt and religious works such as his 1862 The Discovery of Moses (above, left, two versions) and the first of two version of The Flight into Egypt (above). He gained full membership to the Royal Academy, married for a second time after the death of his first wife, then started a second family in a newly built Tudor mansion located in suburban Northwest London, which he called Graeme's Dyke (later changed to Grim's Dyke, and today used as a hotel (112 pounds per night). He entertained lavishly, educating his growing family, and in the process, spending his generous income as fast (or faster) than it came in.

Frederick Goodall in his studio, 1902
Apparently having used up all the resource material from his first trip to Egypt, in 1870, Goodall returned to that country for yet another round of painting and drawing. Having discovered a winning formula, Goodall continued painting canvases large and small featuring Egyptian scenes. In 1890, he was forced by his creditors to sell his suburban mansion and move to central London closer to the schools attended by his youngest children. He continued painting into the early 20th century though, as he approached his eighties, he found himself unable to maintain his prodigious output. His financial problems escalated. He was declared bankrupt in 1902, his belongings and remain paintings auctioned off to an art market no longer enraptured with "all things Egyptian." He died penniless in 1904.

Today's Grim's Dyke Hotel, Harrow, northwest London,
Frederick Goodall's extravagant dream house.

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