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 :. | Autumn | The Old, Old Story | Erato at Her Lyre | In the Tepidarium | Under the Blossom that Hangs on the Bough |
Related Artists:Sir Samuel Fildes
English Painter, 1843-1927Emanuel Salomon Friedberg
painted Jews Taking Snuff in 1885Mercier, Philippe
French Painter, ca.1689-1760
was a French painter and etcher, who lived principally and was active in England. He was born in Berlin of French extraction, the son of a Huguenot tapestry-worker. He studied painting at the Akademie der Wissenschaften of Berlin and later under Antoine Pesne, who had arrived in Berlin in 1710. Later, he traveled in Italy and France before arriving in London??"recommended by the Court at Hannover"??probably in 1716. He married in London in 1719 and lived in Leicester Fields. He was appointed principal painter and librarian to the Prince and Princess of Wales at their independent establishment in Leicester Fields, and while he was in favor he painted various portraits of the Royalties, and no doubt many of the nobility and gentry. Of the Royal portraits, those of the Prince of Wales and of his three sisters, painted in 1728, were all engraved in mezzotint by Jean Pierre Simon, and that of the three elder children of the Prince of Wales by the John Faber Junior in 1744. This last was a typical piece of Mercier's composition, the children being made the subject of a spirited, if somewhat childish, allegory in their game of play. Prince George is represented with a firelock on his shoulder, teaching a dog his drill