The Getty Museum in LA is a treasure. It is an institution that seems committed to providing access to beautiful art. It is free and full of stunning works. The range of the collection is fantastic with works from the ancient world as well as highlights from the 20th century.
Another beautiful thing about the Getty is how generous they are with their downloads! You can download huge images from their site of the works they have cataloged. Many of the images are nearly 9000px in one of the dimensions. This is great for study, allowing you to zoom into the images.
I thought I would highlight the images they have of their Godward paintings. John William Godward was born in 1861 and died in 1922. He has the misfortune of living long enough to see the aesthetic he loved not only fall out of fashion but become vilified. Sadly, he took his own life at the age of 61.
I think that Godward was one of the best at rendering textures. And I think when he was at the top of his game, was capable of creating remarkable images of idealized beauty. Sometimes he fell a little flat, or empty. I think it comes from a few things, but he often over-idealized his subjects and they can sometimes lack depth. Having said that, I can’t help but admire his skills in painting as well as many of his works.
The Signal – 26 × 18 1/4 in. Painted in 1899
Overall this is a beautiful work. I think the palette is gorgeous and his rendering of the semi-transparent cloth is excellent. I do think this is a case where he may have over-idealized the face. It feels almost like a cartoon in that the features feel more formulaic than from observation.
In this close up you can some more of the details. This is a difficult scenario when it comes to rendering a form. The whole of the face is in reflected light, which can really flatten forms. But he does an admirable job here!
Look how beautifully he handled the fabric and the feet are well done too!
Reverie – 23 × 29 in. Painted in 1904
While I don’t love this palette as much as in The Signal, it does have a nice harmony. Godward used the same model for most of his paintings and this painting as the same model as The Signal.
Another highly stylized face. His fabric though appears more lively and naturalistic. You can see he was making great decisions and simplifying how much of the fabric information he chose to paint.
Look at how beautiful the leopard fur has been rendered. Some areas are thick, while others show the weave of the linen. You can see places where he scraped the paint off to give the impression of individual hairs.
Mischief and Repose – 23 7/8 × 52 3/8 in. Painted in 1895
This painting is one of Godward’s more sensual works. It appears designed to be at least a bit provocative and you can imagine that in Victorian England, especially so.
With that being said, it is a great painting to study for technique and skill. I also think that the reclining figure is one of the best that he painted.
This face below feels much more naturalistic than most of his other paintings. I love how he greyed the form in the forearm as it turns away on the top, aiding in the depth and foreshortening. The hand is gorgeous and so is his handling of the sheer material of her dress.
This face is not as successful to my eye, but still quite nice. The hair is beautifully done, with simplified areas punched up with a few places where fine hairs are rendered.
Just look at the beautiful handling of this rosa verona marble!
And this tiger skin fur is so well painted!
I hope you enjoyed running through a few of these paintings with me! Go to the Getty site and browse the images to find the many treasures there!