John William Godward

John William Godward

The so-called Victorian High Medieval is highlighted by the works of art made by John William Godward. Somewhere through the 1890s, approximately simultaneous with the passing of two of the group's most prominent leaders, Frederic, Lord Leighton, and Albert Joseph Moore, his Greco-Roman works reached their height. Of course, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Godward's more well-known Victorian High Renaissance predecessor, continued his work throughout the 1890s and the first decade of the 1900s.

Meanwhile, Godward survived longer than any others and continued to paint his tranquil and melancholic Mediterranean figure works throughout the turbulent decades of World War I and into the early 1920s. Godward was an even bigger antiquated idea than his role models because he was the last of his kind, and he was working against the modern art movements that were going to sweep Europe in the new century. Today, despite his famous and successful output over three decades, he is still the High Renaissance artist whose identification is the most obscured.

Vern Grosvenor Swanson, an art historian, museum curator, and biographer of Alma-Tadema, presented the first assessment of Godward's career and life in 1997 with the title John William Godward: The Collapse of Classicism. Despite the "peaceful beauty and extraordinary technical execution" of his paintings, Swanson remarked in his introduction (p. 13) that Godward got little widespread acclaim throughout his career and no art-historical analysis after his death.

Godward's secretive and introverted character and the restraint of his family have kept his lifestyle cloaked in darkness. Swanson's investigation found a great deal about the artist's life, and his annotating catalog raisonné in the same book highlighted the astonishing consistency of Godward's works.

Early Life

Godward was a Wimbledon's Wilton Grove resident and was born in 1861. His parents were John Godward and Sarah Eboral (an investment clerk at the Law Life Assurance Society, London). The youngest of five kids, he was. He was assigned the names William and John after his paternal grandparents. On October 17, 1861, he was baptized at St. Mary's Church in Battersea. He eventually developed a reclusive and quiet character as an adult due to his parents' demanding behavior.

The first of John and Sarah Godward's five children was born John William Godward in the London suburb of Battersea. The Godwards were a well-off but traditional middle-class family. When their oldest child showed aptitude in drawing at a young age, they finally agreed to let him study architecture with William Huff Wonting in the evenings—in their eyes, an honorable artistic profession—so long as he kept working as a shop assistant at his father's insurance carrier during the day. The family declined to pay for Godward's professional art education at a costly and renowned institution in Paris or London when his interests shifted to the fine arts. As a result, Godward's name is entirely missing from the files of all the major art schools, supposed to lead to the supposition that he received for whichever formal education he had at a fairly small, more highly specialized London art school, conceivably the Clapham School of Art, which was nearer to the Godwards' home, or Heather ley's School of Art in Chelsea.

Regardless of his education, Godward made his debut in 1887 at the Royal Academy of Art's Summer Exhibition with his artwork A Yellow Turban (unallocated). At the Suffolk Road galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists, Godward's oldest known Greco-Roman composition, Poppaea (unlocated), was exhibited. At a fairly early stage of his growing career, Godward had discovered his niche with Poppaea.

It's unknown how or why John William Godward shifted to Greco-Roman subjects so soon after making his big debut. The head of the Royal Society of British Artists, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, may have advised Godward to imitate the Aesthetics painter Albert Joseph Moore. Whistler may have met Godward through the Mccann sisters, three of the top female actresses in London at the time. Godward made pictures of all three sisters between 1887 and 1888 and used them as subjects for his more intricate works after the Pettigrew sisters posed for Sir John Everett Millais, John Singer Sargent, Edward Poynter, and Whistler. Or, Godward may have just been pandering to the widespread demand among wealthy middle-class art collectors for Greco-Roman artworks. Whatever the case, Godward's inventive identity was set by 1888, and he began a lucrative career making lovely genre pictures and figure paintings using the old.

Godward acquired full-fledged maturity in 1893 with the museum of four paintings at the Royal Academy, one of which, At the Fountain (unlocated; a print after the artwork is highlighted on page 187 of Swanson, op. cit. ), was later recreated in a photoengraving, enabling for a greater diversity of the image. Godward's reputation needed to be developed among a larger middle-class public, and engravings were important.

Professional life

In 1887, he presented his works at the Royal Academy. His family cut all connections with him when he traveled to Italy in 1912 with one of his models, even eliminating his likeness from photo albums. 122 Godward returned to England in 1921, passed away in 1922, and was buried at West London's Brampton Cemetery.

Dolce far Niente (1904), one of the most well-known masterpieces, was obtained for Andrew Lloyd Webber's collection in 1995. Godward created numerous versions of this picture, as he did with various other works; in this case, an older (and less well-known) 1897 version and a subsequent 1906 version.

The world is not broad enough for [both] me and Picasso, he wrote in his suicide letter when he took his life at 61.

His estranged family, who had rejected his choice to pursue art, were humiliated by his death and destroyed his papers. There is only one known image of Godward that has persisted.

According to media stories, Godward died by asphyxiation in his Fulham Road studio in December 1922 as a blank picture was forced up on the easel in front of him.

It should not be surprising that Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema has been likened to Godward's pictures; journalists frequently criticized Godward's works as slavish imitations. Most reviewers quickly recognized Godward's correctness but lamented his figures' soulless and soulless. While it is true that Godward's works resemble Alma-Greco-Roman Tadema's works, they rarely weave the same lavishly inflated tales drawn from Greco-Roman mythology or history, nor do they strive to replicate the traditional scene with the same archeological accuracy. Instead, Godward's females usually remain pensive, melancholy, or absorbed in their imaginations. On the few occasions they are visited by another figure—usually a courtship male—there is minimal contact between them because they are nearly always seen alone. Godward's Mediterranean beauties relax in flower-filled gardens, on limestone exedra, or in sparse dwellings covered with mosaics in striking patterns or multicolored marble. Flowers (in a garden setting) add color to a Godward artwork, as do the infrequent animal-skin tosses and, most typically, the women's luridly colored tunics, skirts, stolae, and peploses. Godward diligently added many folds and flounces to his figures' gossamer garments throughout his career because he was captivated by the cloth's various textures and attributes.

Works

Many people acquainted with Godward's work wrongly classify him as an Or before due to the abundance of attractive women in studied poses in many of his paintings. This is particularly true considering that his palette is sometimes vibrantly colored. The Victorian Neo-classicist is more appropriately credited with the choice of subject matter (old civilization as compared to the Arthurian narrative). Godward, like many other paintings of his generation, was a "High Victorian Dreamer," creating paintings of a romantic and glorified world that came to be derided in the cases of Godward and Alma-Tadema as having a "Victorians in togas" worldview.

"Godward swiftly gained a name for his works of young women in a classical environment and his ability to portray with sensitivity and work on behalf the sense of clashing textures, flesh, marble, fur, and fabrics," according to the New York Times article. Godward's passion for generating artwork from the classical era stems directly from the time he was born. The last major classical revival in western art occurred in England in the 1860s and prospered for the following 3 decades.

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The Lady of Shalott 1888

The Lady of Shalott 1888

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Hylas and the Nymphs 1896

Hylas and the Nymphs 1896

$55.00 – $2,656.00
The Lady of Shallot

The Lady of Shallot

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Ophelia 1889

Ophelia 1889

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Sweet Summer 1912

Sweet Summer 1912

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Miranda - The Tempest 1916

Miranda - The Tempest 1916

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Echo and Narcissus 1903

Echo and Narcissus 1903

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Ariadne 1898

Ariadne 1898

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The Awakening of Adonis 1900

The Awakening of Adonis 1900

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Boreas 1903

Boreas 1903

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A Mermaid 1900

A Mermaid 1900

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Windflowers 1903

Windflowers 1903

$55.00 – $2,656.00
The Soul of the Rose 1908

The Soul of the Rose 1908

$55.00 – $2,656.00
Cleopatra 651888

Cleopatra 651888

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The Siren 1900

The Siren 1900

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Destiny 1900

Destiny 1900

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The Magic Circle 1886

The Magic Circle 1886

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Circe Invidiosa 1892

Circe Invidiosa 1892

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Pandora 1896

Pandora 1896

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Idleness II

Idleness II

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