Frederick Goodall RA (1822-1904)

Goodall at work

The painter Frederick Goodall was one of several artistic children of the eminent engraver (especially of landscapes) Edward Goodall. Frederick Goodall left school aged 13 to work as an engraver in his father's studio, but quickly turned to painting, studying often at London Zoo. By age 15 he was receiving commissions for drawings, including Lambeth Palace and the Thames Tunnel. While working on the latter project he met Brunel, who persuaded the young artist to visit Normandy, and he subsequently visited France several times. Goodall's first picture at the Royal Academy showed French soldiers at leisure (The Card Players, 1839). In 1844 he visited Ireland, much improving his technique, and his pictures during this period included a range of popular subject pictures, rustic folk in their natural surroundings, peasants with cottages, sentimental pictures of children enjoying themselves, and other harmless genre. One of his most successful pictures was Raising the Maypole (1851), and he was elected ARA in the following year.

Goodall began to produce dramatically different pictures after a trip to Egypt over winter in 1858-59, in the company of a Bavarian watercolourist, Carl Haag. He made a long series of oil sketches from this trip, selling the whole lot to the famous art dealer Ernest Gambart for 6000 guineas in 1869. A second visit followed in 1870-71. His Egyptian pictures are most characteristic - typically on very long elongated canvases, the archetypical scene has a river, a girl or two with pot balanced on her head, camel riders, goats, and a background of palm trees, hills, and perhaps an ancient city or couple of pyramids. These highly accomplished pictures, with soft colouring, an almost symbolist calmness and sense of atmosphere, are instantly recognisable. As well, he produced various studies of Eastern 'types', in splendid drapery, and often featuring a single girl carrying either a basket, pot or baby. He also produced some enticing Orientalist pictures showing Harem scenes and similar. In 1884 one of these, the well-known New Light of the Harem was bought for the Walker Art Gallery for 1000, a selection described in a contemporary journal as being 'none of the happiest'.

To finish off his life story, Goodall was elected a full Academician in 1863, and his increasing success meant he could afford to have a grand residence (Grimsdyke) built for him in Harrow in 1876 by the architect Norman Shaw. However, he sold that house in 1888 and moved to central London.

Goodall's wife, Alice Tarry Goodall, was herself an artist, exhibiting at the Royal Academy in the early 1890s. His brothers Edward and Walter were also painters, as was his sister Eliza Goodall.

Goodall's work is widespread in the galleries. As already noted, New Light of the Harem is in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, as is a rather pious Mother and Child. Other Eastern pictures include work at Manchester, Bradford, and the Tate. A variety of other work may be found in Tunbridge Wells, the Royal Academy Diploma Gallery, the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, the Mappin Art Gallery in Sheffield, the Laing Art Gallery, the Leicester Art Gallery, Bury Art Gallery, Salford Art Gallery, V and A and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. Abroad, works by Goodall in Australian galleries include a biblical picture in the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, and other works including The Well in the Geelong Gallery, Victoria.

Orientalist painters // Other artists