Born in Maidstone in Kent, Goodwin was a landscape painter who, in the course of a long career and a prolific output of paintings in watercolour and oil, spans from the age of the Pre-Raphaelites and Ruskin through to the 1930s. As a young man he worked as an assistant to Ford Madox Brown and Arthur Hughes, and became a protégé of Ruskin — who, according to Lionel Lambourne, "[f]rom the 1860s gradually abandoned active encouragement of his contemporaries, preferring younger disciples who could produce the sort of work he really wanted" (122). Goodwin seemed to have been an ideal disciple. In 1872 Ruskin took Goodwin and Arthur Severn to Italy with him so that they could make copies of buildings that Ruskin feared were threatened by restoration. Later travels took him all round Britain and as far afield as the South Seas and India.
Albert Goodwin, Ruskin, Arthur and Joan Severn with friend in Venice. Click on image to enlarge it.
As a young artist Goodwin was capable of objective realism in his paintings, but even in the early 70s he was praised for revealing "quite new power in the painting of sunlight, usually either partially veiled behind grey cloud, but still irradiating the scene, or striking low and with the mellow warmth of eventide" ("The Society of Painters in Water-Colours"). In his later years he increasingly employed highly personal and experimental techniques, such as drawing in ink over water colour, to achieve the atmospheric feel and effects of fleeting light that characterise his greatest paintings. Lambourne tells us that his
townscapes are now the most sought-after of late Victorian landscapes. At his best, and Goodwin was remarkably consistent, he excels at catching the essence of a famous view of a city, such as Ponte Vecchio, Florence [...] in a style which, while it looks back to Turner's great series of cities, ports and rivers, has its own integrity. [122-25]
Goodwin exhibited so regularly that his name crops up repeatedly under exhibition notices in newspaper archives. He showed oil-paintings at the Royal Academy and watercolours at the Water-Colour Society. In one review of an exhibition at the former his Baptism of Flowers is praised rhapsodically for showing "a delightful spread of level copse-grown ground, starred with primroses and azure with hyacinths, with children revelling in the earthly paradises of those sweet scents and lovely hues" ("The Royal Academy"). He became a full member of the Society of Water Colours in 1881 (as noted in the Times of 2 December that year ), and is credited with having shown over 700 works in the course of what was clearly a very successful career (this figure comes from "Albert Goodwin: Visionary Landscapes").
"Albert Goodwin: Visionary Landscapes." Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery. Web. 2 February 2015.
Lambourne, Lionel. Victorian Painting. London and New York: Phaidon, 1999.
Newall, Christopher. A Celebration of British and European Painting of the 19th and 20th Centuries. London: Peter Nahum, nd [1999?].
"The Royal Academy." Times. 12 May 1877: 6. Times Digital Archive. Web. 2 February 2015.
"The Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours." Times. 2 December 1881: 7. Times Digital Archive. Web. 2 February 2015.
Smith, Hammond. Albert Goodwin. London: 1977.
"The Society of Painters in Water-Colours." Times. 25 April 1872: 6. Times Digital Archive. Web. 2 February 2015.
Last modified 2 February 2015