Frederick Goodall - Figures
Oil on Canvas
Circa 1822 - 1904 (London). Signed F. Goodall on the bottom right
Frederick Goodall trained with his father Edward Goodall (1795-1870), a renowned steel line engraver who engraved many of Turner’s works. He was one of six brothers and four sisters of which four of them, became artists including his brother Edward Angelo Goodall, who was also a talented painter. During his childhood, the family had many regular visitors to their home including, John Ruskin, Augustus Pugin, David Roberts, and Turner who encouraged Frederick and Edward to take up the profession. Frederick's first commission, for Isambard Brunel, was six watercolour paintings of the Rotherhithe Tunnel. Four these were exhibited as the Royal Academy at aged sixteen, and he went on exhibit twenty-seven times between 1938 and 1859 at the Royal Academy. Goodall's earlier work was devoted to painting subjects of British history from around 1850. His art changed after the Egyptian occupation in 1858 when he started painting Orientalist themes and scenes of life in Cairo. These themes increased the positive reception of his work at the time. His boosted reputation also allowed him to win the election at the Royal Academy in 1860 which led to a significant personal exhibition at the Burlington House. Goodall, not only received high praise from critics and artists in his lifetime, but he also became a man of great wealth.
The history behind Frederick Goodall’s painting 'figures' remains a mystery, but there is speculation the two figures are noblewomen dressed in Victorian, mourning attire. Frederick’s emotional composition portrays an older woman dressed in a black dress with a delicate lace headdress, a lavish broach, and fur-lined cloak providing comfort to the distressed younger woman, who is also dressed in black - an indication of a time of mourning. The tapestry of the coat of arms is placed behind a raised chair, and the lavish Victorian clothing of the older lady implies a family of noble descent, even royalty.