British artist Maude Goodman produced a large selection of genre scenes depicting idyllic, domestic life. She was celebrated greatly in the 19th-century and was regarded by some as embodying the spirit of the British people as sentimental optimists.
There is certainly a pleasantly romantic wash cast over Goodman’s scenes of mothers and their children. They collect flowers, relax on plush furniture, or frolic in lush fields of rippling grass. As a mother herself, Goodman surely struck inspirational gold from her own experiences. Her work is certainly infused with a vitality which makes it clear Goodman understood the subject to which she was devoting herself.
As a young woman seeking to pursue art, Goodman relied upon her stepmother for encouragement. Her father was reluctant, refusing her request to travel to Paris to study. Eventually, she was approved to study at the South Kensington Schools, established to encourage the education of art.
Crucially, Goodman finally found success when she was noticed by Henry Wallis of the French Gallery. Work by Goodman, displayed in his gallery, was aquired by a client, who then wrote to Wallis insisting Goodman’s work was worth much more than the price paid. The spotlight was turned on her work with its high quality of finish and neat arrangement of composition and Goodman thenceforth found praise and acclaim. She established a career and proved to her doubting father her passion was not unfounded.
Goodman exhibited frequently in high art circles, such as at the Royal Academy. She also displayed work with the progressive Society of Women Artists, potentially aware of the necessary steps that needed to be taken to recognise the talent of female artists.
Indeed, she was commonly lauded as the best female artist of her time. This was potentially owing to the commercial viability of her work. Her pleasing scenes of domestic bliss were incredibly popular, often being reproduced in newspapers or sold as prints. ‘At least one’ of Goodman’s works was ‘found in nearly every home,’ lauded a woman’s magazine.
During the 1890s Goodman worked for Raphael Tuck & Sons, the trailblazing producer of greeting cards and postcards. She also illustrated poem books, some written by her husband, Arthur Edward Scanes. Her work was disseminated widely, and indeed became so iconic that other artists of domestic scenes were said to be painting ‘a la Maude Goodman.’ Perhaps the most prestigious determiner of her important place in Victorian Britain comes from Goodman receiving the honour of being satirised in the popular magazine ‘Punch.’
Goodman’s popularity began to wane in the 20th-Century with the move towards art nouveau. Her place, however, as one of the pre-eminent artists of the Victorian era was already sealed by paper and paint. Perhaps when we recall the domestic idyll that the Victorians praised so heavily, we are all thinking ‘a la Maude Goodman.’
Born in Manchester.
Exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists.
Exhibited at the Society of Women Artists.
Married Arthur Edward Scanes.