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John William Godward – The Last Great Classicism Artist

John William Godward was a Neo-Classicist English artist. Born on August 9, 1861 in England, he was the oldest of five children.

He was successful enough in the late 19th century to exhibit at the Royal Academy. But towards the end of his life, Neo-Classicism fell out of favor as it got replaced by Modernism.

John William Godward - A Pompeian Bath (1890)
John William Godward – A Pompeian Bath (1890)

John William Godward’s women

I like his artwork for his Classical women – Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. His paintings were flawless. His women looked three dimensional and very lifelike, and I love everything from his water to his marble in the background.

In 1912, he moved to Italy with one of his models and his family disowned him, and even cut his image from family pictures, like what the Blacks (in Harry Potter) did to Sirius Black.

For the record, Godward was not a Pre-Raphaelite. He was often mistaken for one.

His art style fell out of favor when Modernism took hold. He killed himself at the age of 61 and wrote on his suicide note the following – “the world is not big enough for myself and a Picasso.”

Athenais (1908)
Athenais (1908)

My thoughts on John William Godward

I love his artwork because of the way he does women. You already know how much I love women and the female form.

He’s probably the most realistic painter of women without the art piece looking too much like a photograph. I’m not into too much Realism. But that’s just me. Personal taste.

I do see why he fell out of favor. His artwork is aesthetically gorgeous, but meaningless. Academically, it’s brilliant. But does it move you?

I’m actually somewhat a fan of Picasso. I went to the Picasso Museum when my wife and I went to Barcelona a few years back. That said, I’m not too crazy about Modern Art because it is all meaning and no aesthetics. They went the opposite extreme.

I happen to love beauty and aesthetics. Most Modern Art and especially Post-Modernism is pretty fucking ugly.

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