News from the Front
‘News from the Front’ by Frederick Goodall R.A. H.R.I. (1822-1904).
The painting – which depicts a diverse cross-section of Victorian figures gathered outside a post office as they receive news of the war in India – is signed by the artist and dated 1849-51.
Goodall painted three versions of the present work; the larger, entitled ‘The Post Office’, was exhibited at the British Institution in 1850, whilst the smaller version is today in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
In 1862, an edition of The Art Journal recalled the paintings great popularity and discussed the figures portrayed;
“In front of the door is a group of ‘village politicians’, foremost among whom is the barber whose business it is to gain the earliest intelligence of news that he may retail it to his customers: he holds in his hand a copy of The Times and is reading some war tidings of importance, for the word “Victory” appears on the broad sheet. The brawny ﬁgure with the bare arms is the blacksmith, owner of the wicked-looking bull terrier by his side. Nearer to the spectator is the ‘boots’ of the village inn who probably acts also as occasional ostler. The youth in a velveteen jacket is from the mansion and is come for the squire’s letters, and a boy with a board ﬁlled with ﬁne ﬁsh completes the group. On the other side of the picture are two ﬁgures to whom that stolid, round-faced post-boy has brought anything but good tidings; a woman and her boy now in all probability the widow and the fatherless, an open letter with a black seal lies before them; it tells them the ‘victory’ has made them desolate. At least it may be presumed this is the artist’s intention, for the drum at the boy’s side may be taken to signify that he is a soldier’s son. In advance of these is another woman reading a letter to an old Chelsea pensioner and his wife. There is no sad intelligence in her epistle, her child may continue its gambol with the kitten unchecked by its mother whose hour of tribulation has not yet come”.
A precocious talent, Frederick Goodall's first professional commission (aged just 16) came from the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and whilst still in his mid-20s he was already one of the most critically acclaimed and financially successful painters in Britain. Between 1838 and 1902 Frederick Goodall exhibited at all the principal London venues, most prominently at the Royal Academy on 165 occasions. Goodall was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1852, a full Royal Academician in 1863, and an Honorary member of the British Institution in 1867.
Dimensions: (framed) 110cm x 138cm (43¼” x 54¼”)
Dimensions: (canvas only) 89cm x 118cm (35” x 46½”)
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Provenance: 1860; ‘Artists, Sculptors & Architects’ exhibition in Paris. 1860s; with Vicars Brothers Ltd, London. Private collection of Sir Julian Goldsmid. 1896; Christie’s, where purchased by Nathan Mitchell, 18 Regents Park Road, London. 1901; exhibited in Sheffield. 1902; ‘French and English Painters of the 19th Century’ exhibition at the Guildhall in London. 1902 exhibited in Glasgow. 1972; sold at Bonhams, London. 1989; sold at Sotheby's, London. 1990: with Haynes Fine Art, Broadway. Thence in private UK collection.
Presentation: Fine quality gold leaf frame.
Condition: Very good. Newly professionally cleaned and revarnished. Ready to hang.