The artist (right) with his mother, Sarah, and brother and sister Alfred and Mary.
Unlike many other Classical painters, Godward's women actually look like they were born in the Mediterranean (the Venus, above, is a rare exception) and don't have the "English rose in a toga" look of so many of his contemporaries. One influence on the look of the women in his subsequent paintings was an introduction, through Whistler, of the famous artists' models, the Pettigrew sisters: Harriet, Lilian and Rose. They were gypsy girls from the West Country and were the most famous models in London at the time; sitting for Whistler, Poynter, Millais and Sargent.
Godward joined an artists studio in Gilston Road named the Bolton Studios where he was probably influenced by Henry Ryland who, when he left the Bolton studios, then shared a studio with Classical painter Herbert Draper. Unusually, nearly 40% of the artists at the Bolton Studios were women painters. The studio, as a result, developed a somewhat racy reputation; with rumours that some of the lady painters were earning a living in ways that weren't relating to their painting!
1 St Leonard's Studio is the low building on the right. We had our first Chinese on the roof terrace!
Godward is one of Triple P's favourite artists but is still under-rated, even at a time whem Alma-Tadema and Leighton have been largely rehabilitated. Godward eventually came to a tragic end
which we will explore the next time we look at some of his more succesful female figures.