Godward, John William

BORN 9 Aug 1861, London: Wimbledon - DIED 13 Dec 1922, London
CAUSE OF DEATH suicide by gassing in oven
GRAVE LOCATION London: Brompton Cemetery, Old Brompton Road, West Brompton (8 (near the graves of Henry Cole and Frederick Sandys))

John William Godward's was the son of John Godward, who worked at the Law Life Assurance Society in London. He received architecture training from William Hoff Wonter, but he wanted to be an artist. His wealthy family strongly disapproved of this idea, but he decided to be a painter anyway and he became one of the best followers of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, painting beautiful women in classical surroundings with lots of marmor. He worked in London (where he lived in Wilton Grove) and from 1887 onwards he exhibited at the Royal Academy. He was reclusive and little is known about his life.

In 1912 he moved to Italy with one of his models and at this point his family broke off all contact, going as far as removing his image from family pictures. He lived in Rome from 1912 but in Italy his work was thought to be old fashioned. In 1919 he returned to England, but there his work wasn't appreciated anymore either. This was probably the reason for a deep depression resulting in suicide by putting his head in a gas oven. It was said that he left a suicide note that said that the world wasn't big enough for both him and a Picasso.

After his death his family burned his papers and as far as known no photograph of himself survived. After his father died in 1904 he had bought a grave for him at Brompton Cemetery and there he was buried as well, not far from the painters Frederick Sandys, James Godwin and Val Prinsep.

Work: "The Betrothed" (1892, Guildhall Art Gallery, London); "On the Balcony" (1898, Manchester City Art Gallery); "Dolce Far Niente" (1904, second version, Collection Andrew Lloyd Webber).

Related persons
• was influenced by Alma-Tadema, Lawrence


The grave of John William Godward at Brompton Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (13 May 2011)


The grave of John William Godward at Brompton Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (13 May 2011)


"The Betrothed".
   (1892, London: Guildhall Art Gallery)

John William Godward - Wikipedia

Godwin, George

Published: 12 Jan 2013
Last update: 20 May 2023