Frederick Goodall R. A

Frederick Goodall R. A

Biography of Frederick Goodall R. A ( 1822-1904 )

The son of the famous engraver Edward Goodall - one of the official engravers of William Turner's works - Frederick grew up in a particularly creative environment. Indeed, the family home, Mornington Grove Cottage, is regularly frequented by artists such as John Ruskin, Clarkson Stanfield, Augustus Pugin, David Roberts and of course the master William Turner. All these artists encouraged Frederick and his older brother Edward to practice watercolour and painting.

Frederick Goodall began his apprenticeship at the Wellington Road Academy. In addition to his plastic training, he surveyed the Regent's Park Zoo and the banks of the Thames with his easel, brushes and colours. There the artist met the French engineer Ismabar Brunel, designer of the Thames Tunnel linking Rotherhithe and Wapping. The latter commissioned him to carry out a series of commissions reflecting the progress of the work. Goodall, aged sixteen, is a particularly precocious artist. He exhibited a series of four watercolours at the prestigious Académie Royale. Subsequently, his oil painting entitled "The Drowning of the Miner", exhibited at the London Arts Society, was awarded a silver medal. Awarded a scholarship, the artist managed to finance his first trip outside England: he went to Brittany with his brother Edward. 

Upon his return to London, the artist's work, which was particularly prized by amateurs, was exhibited on numerous occasions. At the age of twenty, Goodall had more than ten exhibitions to his credit: he lived comfortably off his art. In 1852, he was elected associate member of the Royal Academy of London. 

In 1858, Frederick Goodall undertook his first trip with his friend Carl Haag, with whom he settled in the autumn in the Coptic quarter of Cairo. Together, they crossed the Suez Desert and lived in contact with Bedouin tribes. Goodall expresses his fascination for the oriental world in his memoirs in these terms: "the swarming and colourful crowds of bazaars, the camels jostling in the narrow streets overlooked by picturesque sculpted balconies, the silence of mosques, the Sphinx in the moonlight, the sail of a felucca on the Nile, the vast mystery of the desert" so many sensations that inspire his works. Representations of street scenes in Cairo, scenes of rural life are at the heart of his production. This Egyptian journey inaugurates a new artistic direction: he abandons his figurations of English landscapes in favour of orientalist subjects.

After seven months in Egypt, Goodall returned to London and began working on large canvases inspired by his many Egyptian sketches made in situ. In 1860, he exhibited "A Morning in the Shur Desert" at the Royal Academy in London, which received rave reviews: artists such as Landseer and Roberts celebrated his talent. 

In 1869, the Royal Academy moved to Burlington House. Goodall was invited to present fifty studies produced during his stay in Egypt. His work was particularly influential with the famous art dealer Ernest Gambart, who bought almost all of his work from him. 

The following year, accompanied by his two young sons Trevelyan and Howard, Goodall returned to Egypt and settled near Saqqarah, in the house of the famous French Egyptologist François Auguste Mariette, known as Mariette-Bey. He soon began to follow the Bedouins, in order to transcribe their way of life and customs in his paintings. Sketches abound: portraits, landscapes, street scenes multiply. Although the artist devotes himself entirely to the practice of drawing and painting, he also exploits the photographic medium as a creative support to compose his subjects.

The artist left Egypt for good to return to London, where he sent his sons to school in 1872. His new home served as a gathering point for many of London's high society personalities: famous and influential personalities met in this exceptional setting. He notably received the Prince of Wales and Charles Dickens. Upon his return to England, Goodall continued to produce orientalist paintings. A painting presenting "The Snake Charming" dated 1901, will be his last production, sent to Marlborough House for His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.

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