Lot 137
  • 137

Frederick Goodall, R.A. 1822-1904

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Frederick Goodall, R.A.
  • trespassers
  • signed with monogram and dated 1886 l.r.
  • oil on canvas
  • 112 by 99 cm., 44 by 39 in.


Bonham's, London, 3 August 1978, lot 190;
Richard Green, c.1978;
Private collection


Royal Academy, 1886, no.232

Catalogue Note

The setting for Trespassers is an English woodland in spring where bluebells and unfurling bracken are pushing their way through a carpet of leaves fallen in the previous autumn. Two children, a sister and her younger brother, have gathered an armful of the bluebells but have been disturbed by the approach of the owner of the woodland. Their expressions convey their apprehension at being caught trespassing and their little dog's startled pose adds to the frisson of tension. These are not the street urchins and vagabonds that we might expect to find in a painting of this title and they are dressed in the smart clothing of the privileged class. The models for Goodall's genre paintings were often members of his own family. His wife Alice, herself a painter and occasional exhibitor, was very beautiful and appears in paintings by her husband in decorous but at the same time strikingly intimate poses. The artist’s daughter, whose name was Rica, also appears in Goodall’s paintings and it is likely that the present subject shows her with one of her two brothers, either Frederick or Herbert. The same children appear in another of Goodall's exhibits of the same year Puritan and Cavalier (unlocated) in which a game of hide-and-seek is being played in Goodall's studio. The tender relationship between the two children is delightful, whilst the depiction of the fabrics of their clothes and the woodland setting demonstrates the artist's great technical dexterity which made him one of the most popular exhibitors at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions. 

As Susan Casteras has observed, the Victorian era 'heralded a golden age of childhood, at least for the upper and middle classes.' (Susan P. Casteras, Victorian Childhood, 1986, p.4) She points out that in the period between 1840 and 1914 a third of the population of Britain were below the age of fourteen. Victorian writers catered for the younger members of society through the innumerable children's magazines full of fairy stories, tales or heroism and mysterious intrigues. The likes of Charles Dodgson, Edward Lear, Charles Kingsley and George MacDonald wrote books with boys and girl's in mind and the toy manufacturing industry expanded enormously. For artists the subject of childhood was irresistible and a perfunctory leaf through a copy of Academy Notes for almost any year of the late nineteenth century reveals the large number of pictures of children. Perhaps the most eminent painted of children was John Everett Millais who made numerous compositions in which adults were invited to consider the condition of childhood. Millais was perhaps the artist principally responsible for advancing the genre. Furthermore, the painting of such subjects was seen as a particularly British artistic specialisation, and with great admiration and the desire to emulate the contribution that artists such as Reynolds had made in the field.

Goodall was a stalwart of the Royal Academy, having shown works there in the summer exhibitions from 1838. He was to continue exhibiting at the Academy until 1902 just two years before his death. Goodall was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1852, and a full academician in 1863. He had begun his career by training as an engraver with his father, but had then received a commission to make a series of drawings of the Thames Tunnel, which was then approaching completion. The pattern of Goodall’s work in his later career is indicated by the titles of his exhibited work: as a young man he often painted French and British historical subjects; in about 1860, presumably as a result of a visit to Egypt, he commenced a series of middle-eastern genre and landscape subjects – the works for which he is probably best remembered today. Mixed with these are occasional Biblical subjects, apparently chosen for their compatibility with Egyptian landscape and architectural settings. From about the mid-1880s Goodall turned principally to subjects in English settings, and to pure landscapes and portraits.

Goodall’s works were a familiar and much loved feature of the annual exhibitions, and he seems to have been professionally successful at least until the last decade of his career when fashions in picture-buying moved towards rather more challenging subjects and the so-called English Impressionist manner of fractured paint surface. In his autobiography, The Reminiscences of Frederick Goodall (1902), the painter described his work and his career as a member of the Royal Academy. The Goodalls were a family of artists; Frederick Goodall’s father Edward was an engraver of note, while his two brothers Edward and Walter both became professional artists – although Frederick was always the most successful.