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Robert Gwelo Goodman: The early years

An artist of European descent with a middle name is of Rhodesian descent; Robert Gwelo Goodman went on to become an esteemed artist of the 20th century. Described as an attractive, stimulating, and vital man Joyce Newton Thompson seemed comfortable in her admiration of this artist, but what impact did he have on art scene?

Robert Gwelo Goodman Art

Goodman was born in England and resettled in South Africa with his family in 1886. His father was a British Railways worker, explaining the logic behind the family’s African move. Robert worked as a railways clerk during his teenage years. A few years later he would enrol in tertiary education under J.S. Morland, who become a trusted advisor to Goodman throughout his career.

In 1895 Goodman travelled back to Europe for the first time since settling in South Africa. It was Morland who encouraged him to enrol in art studies in France. Academie Julian would be his new ‘home’. It was here that Goodman could engage with French traditionalist, William Bouguereau; who described his daily routine in the following way:  “Each day I go to my studio full of joy; in the evening when obliged to stop because of darkness I can scarcely wait for the next morning to come … if I cannot give myself to my dear painting I am miserable.”

This would be the beginning of a career filled with wide travels and vast adventures. His exhibitions not only crossed the equator but also jumped the Atlantic to the shores of North America. Robert Goodman was honoured with numerous awards, one of the highlights being the Gold Medal he received for a group of pastels at the San Franciso exhbition of 1915.

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