John William Godward
(English, 1861 - 1922)
This person is associated with: Academism

English Classicist Painter.

Due to the disapproval of his family for his choice of career, he mostly trained on his own. He was initiated to the classical Victorian style by William Clarke Wontner, with whom he had befriended in a small and unknown art school. Godward started to exhibit with some success in the Royal Academy from 1887 and was admitted there in 1890.

More generally, Godward was the closest follower of Alma-Tadema in his depictions of ancient costumes and marbles, for which he is particularly celebrated. However, contrary to his mentor, Godward never painted historical scenes; his works were only dedicated to Greco-Roman maidens dreaming or reclining in fantasy palaces made of marble by bright summer day.

After a first trip in 1910, Godward moved permanently to Rome in 1912 in order to follow one of his Italian models, and probably because of Modern Art which had outdated his works in England. The year of his arrival, he painted a few landscapes and still lifes - the only digression to his classical style. He produced his finest idealized beauties during his Roman period, but had to come back in 1921 because of his declining health.

Despite the apparent happiness displayed in his works, Godward had a melancholic life which ended tragically; being rejected by his family and the critics, he committed suicide in 1922. His family thereafter burnt all his papers, so his life is sparsely known - we do not even have a picture of him.

Surprisingly, very few museums hold his works, as he was disregarded for a long time, and the overwhelming part of his oeuvre remains in private hands.


Catalogue raisonné: Dr Vern Swanson, John William Godward, The Eclipse of Classicism, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1997.

Contributors:   rocsdad, Josselin
Name:John William Godward
Dates:1861 - 1922
This artist has 262 artworks in the database. Add more!
Top owners of works by this artist
Private collection246 artworks
Manchester Art Gallery(United Kingdom - Manchester)3 artworks
J. Paul Getty Museum - Los Angeles(United States - Los Angeles)3 artworks
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum(United Kingdom - Bournemouth)2 artworks
National Trust for Scotland, Hermiston Quay(United Kingdom - Edinburgh)1 artworks
Wigan Arts and Heritage Service(United Kingdom - Wigan)1 artworks
Bury Art Museum(United Kingdom - Bury, Greater Manchester)1 artworks
Dahesh Museum of Art(United States - New York, New York)1 artworks
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery(Australia - Broken Hill)1 artworks
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud(Germany - Cologne)1 artworks
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum - Glasgow(United Kingdom - Glasgow)1 artworks

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Creative works made by this person are in the PUBLIC DOMAIN (not copyrighted).

This person died over 70 years ago (in 1922).

rocsdad:1 edit
Josselin:1 edit