The Rain From Heaven, All Souls, Oxford

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Image Details

683 x 1000 pixels

Albert Goodwin


The Rain From Heaven, All Souls, Oxford

35.6 x 52.4 cms | 14 x 20 1/2 ins
Watercolour, Pencil, touches o

Though he was influenced by both Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites, Goodwin's talent and unique personality managed to emerge from the shadows of his famous influencers. There is an almost mystical quality to many of Goodwin's landscapes, of beauty touched by strangeness. Many of Goodwin's pictures are of picturesque structures, ruined castles, looming bridges, or Gothic spires reaching out of the clouds of weather, or the fog of night. One cannot help but sense vast and different worlds swirling around our heaviest monuments, as if portals to other times and places were all around us. His painting of Westminster, for instance, looks as if that wonderful building was emerging from a rampaging fire; while his Benares seems almost to emerge from the gloom of a dark dream. The Rain From Heaven, All Souls, Oxford has this dreamlike quality. The church emerges from the clouds and mist, almost hovering before the viewer like a gray illusion. The picture, in watercolor, pencil, and, heightened with white body color, is a masterwork. The spires are suggested rather than delineated, as the suggestions of a gifted minimalist. No information is lost, and a definite sense of place is secured. The faint hint of a greater London in the distance works to ground All Souls in reality, as does the tiny, umbrella-carrying figures in the left foreground. The sun tries to pierce the gloom overhead, as if an appeal from heaven. Goodwin has created a realistic impression of rain, mist and fog, through the use of lost and found contour lines. The gray haze hovering over All Souls (and London beyond) is opaque and heavy with water. In fact, that Goodwin was able to neuter the natural luminosity of watercolor is a sign of his virtuosity. It is a monochromatic virtuoso.

- By James Abbot
Adapted from an article first published August 31, 2011 on the Jade Sphinx