Albert Goodwin was a painter of landscapes and imaginative subjects and a great admirer of Turner. He is particularly noted for his atmospheric watercolour landscapes painted with a virtuoso technique. Goodwin first exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of fifteen, with a Ruskinian oil painting Under the Hedge. In the early 1860s, he was studied under Arthur Hughes and Ford Madox Brown. In this decade Goodwin began to abandon oils for watercolours, and started exhibiting at the Dudley Gallery. The Dudley Gallery was a natural choice of venue for Goodwin at this period of transition. The exhibition of the Old and New Watercolour Societies were restricted to the works of members and associates, and in the mid Nineteenth Century, artists who worked in oil as well as watercolour were rarely elected. The Royal Academy displayed watercolour work poorly. The Dudley Gallery was founded in 1865 as an alternative open exhibition for watercolours. It attracted aspirants to the two older societies (in fact Goodwin was elected Associate of the Old Watercolour Society in 1872), as well as watercolours by established oil painters. Because it was run by a committee of young artists, it gained a reputation for liberalism and in the 1860’s was favoured by the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers. Hughes introduced Goodwin to Ruskin around 1870. It was as a watercolourist that Ruskin employed him in the 1870’s and 1880’s in his project to record endangered buildings. In 1872 Goodwin travelled with Ruskin and Arthur Severn to Italy. This was the first of many trips abroad that he made both for Ruskin and independently. His travels would take him throughout Europe, India, Egypt and the South Seas. Goodwin’s mature watercolours create subtle and effervescent effects of colour and light, which he achieved with a combination of washing, scumbling, sponging and stippling. He was also one of the first Victorian watercolourists to add pen and ink to finished watercolours. Ruskin admired his works greatly, despite that fact that they sometimes sacrificed antiquarian to atmospheric qualities. Goodwin was elected Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1871 and Member in 1881.
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