John William Godward
Godward was a Victorian Neo-classicist, and therefore a follower in theory of Frederic Leighton. However, he is more closely allied stylistically to Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, with whom he shared a penchant for the rendering of Classical architecture, in particular, static landscape features constructed from marble.
The vast majority of Godward's extant images feature women in Classical dress, posed against these landscape features, though there are some semi-nude and fully nude figures included in his oeuvre (a notable example being In The Tepidarium (1913), a title shared with a controversial Alma-Tadema painting of the same subject that resides in the Lady Lever Art Gallery). The titles reflect Godward's source of inspiration: Classical civilisation, most notably that of Ancient Rome (again a subject binding Godward closely to Alma-Tadema artistically), though Ancient Greece sometimes features, thus providing artistic ties, albeit of a more limited extent, with Leighton.
Given that Classical scholarship was more widespread among the potential audience for his paintings during his lifetime than in the present day, meticulous research of detail was important in order to attain a standing as an artist in this genre. Alma-Tadema was, as well as a painter, an archaeologist who attended historical sites and collected artefacts that were later used in his paintings: Godward, too, studied such details as architecture and dress, in order to ensure that his works bore the stamp of authenticity. In addition, Godward painstakingly and meticulously rendered those other important features in his paintings, animal skins (the paintings Noon Day Rest (1910) and A Cool Retreat (1910) contain superb examples of such rendition) and wild flowers (Nerissa (1906), illustrated above, and Summer Flowers (1903) are again excellent examples of this).
The appearance of beautiful women in studied poses in so many of Godward's canvases causes many newcomers to his works to categorise him mistakenly as being Pre-Raphaelite, particularly as his palette is often a vibrantly colourful one. However, the choice of subject matter (ancient civilisation versus, for example, Arthurian legend) is more properly that of the Victorian Neoclassicist: however, it is appropriate to comment that in common with numerous painters contemporary with him, Godward was a 'High Victorian Dreamer', producing beautiful images of a world which, it must be said, was idealised and romanticised, and which in the case of both Godward and Alma-Tadema came to be criticised as a world-view of 'Victorians in togas'. Related Paintings of John William Godward :. | Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder | A Priestess | Idle Thoughts | Tranquillity | Noonday Rest |
Related Artists:Frank H Desch
IBBETSON, Julius Caesar
English Painter, 1759-1817
English painter, printmaker and writer. The son of a clothier, he was apprenticed to John Fletcher, a ship painter in Hull; in 1775 Ibbetson became a scene-painter there. In 1777 he moved to London, where he worked as a scene-painter and picture restorer. He married about three years later. From 1785 he exhibited landscapes, genre scenes and portraits at the Royal Academy. In 1787-8 Ibbetson was personal draughtsman to Col. Charles Cathcart on the first British Mission to Beijing, a voyage that included visits to Madeira, the Cape of Good Hope and Java. His watercolour False Bay, Cape of Good Hope (London, V&A), made on this journey, shows a picturesque roughness of foliage and rustic staffage adapted from his English landscape style. Cathcart's death forced Ibbetson to return to England (he exhibited an oil painting, untraced, of the Burial of Col. Cathcart in Java at the Royal Academy in 1789); thereafter he lived by painting landscape oils and watercolours, the subjects culled from his frequent tours. He painted occasional portraits throughout his career (e.g. Young Man, 1790; Leeds, Temple Newsam House) and contributed to John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery (e.g. Scene from 'The Taming of the Shrew', untraced, see Waterhouse, p. 192). In 1789 he stayed with John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, at Cardiff Castle and visited the Isle of Wight in 1790. In 1792 he toured Wales and the surrounding area with the painter John 'Warwick' Smith and his companion Robert Fulke Greville, resulting in the publication of his book of engravings, A Picturesque Guide (1793). His oil painting of Aberglasyn: The Flash of Lightning (Leeds, C.A.G.) evokes the sublimity of the mountainous Welsh terrain; the drama of the storm over Aberglasyn is conveyed by thick impasto and strong chiaroscuro, a way of handling paint that Ibbetson learnt from copying 17th-century Dutch masters while working for a London dealer named Clarke during the late 1770s and early 1780s.