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John William Godward Paintings
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John William Godward BiographyEnglish Victorian Neoclassical artist
born 9 August 1861 - died 13 December 1922
The serene beauty and astonishing technical execution of John William Godward paintings contradict the fact that this important artist has received virtually no critical acclaim or art historical recognition. We know little about this artist's private life, which is not betrayed by his art. Melancholy, kindly, reclusive, handsome, talented and shy, his life is still a mystery, a censored book, protected by himself and sealed by his family. Unlike most Olympian Classicists before him, John William Godward preferred anonymity and privacy.
Ignored by the quickly changing tastes of the art critics, the
became the climatic figure of English
classicism painting as this genre
itself shriveled under the blaze of the 20th
century avant-garde. John William Godward was the best of the
last great European artists to
straight-forwardly embrace classical Greece
and Rome in their art. Herein lies his
significance to art history. With him and
his colleagues, we see the nightfall of five
hundred years of John William Godward painting
in Western art.
My friend, Christopher Wood, has been a font of information and inspiration. An
art research nerd and friend, Edward P. Bentley of Lansing Michigan has, from
1984, been a source of information on the artist. I also
thank Julian Wontner for sharing John William Godward painting.
In Utah and the West, Adrian Comolo of the Brigham Young University Library has been of immeasurable help with the Italian side of the equation. Many thanks go to Dr. David Glover of Bountiful Utah, my brother Dr. Robert Dale Hill of Central Point Oregon, and Dr. Kent Rich of Salt Lake City for help to silhouette a personalityAbout US of the artist. And finally to the Springville Museum of Art Board of Trustees and Staff for allowing me to indulge my art historical eccentricities.
Godward, as one of the greatest
practitioners of the Classical ideal. His
art represents the summation of this
incredibly important paradigm. What John William Godward
does represent, is a microcosm for all
Classicists during a period aptly called
"The Twilight of the Gods" or "The Eclipse
of Classicism." In the bigger picture, his
career supplies the clearest example of the
death of the classical Greco-Roman subject
painting. A slightly younger generation
after John William Godward also saw the demise of
modern-style classicism in the hostile
environment of the early 20th century.
|This neglect has continued unto today, when private collector's have begun to include him in their collections at prices rivaling those of Tadema himself. Art historians are now beginning to evaluate both John William Godward and his post-Olympian contemporaries, the "Last Classicists." The reason for this upsurge in appreciation is the realization that the quality of John William Godward painting compares favorably with other late 19th and early 20th century Classicists. Over a remarkably consistent career of almost forty years the painter created a vital niche for John William Godward paintings.||
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