Goodwin was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and was raised in the Chelsea section of Boston. He worked as a banker and a paper salesman before deciding at the age of thirty-nine to be a professional artist. His inspiration was the artist Louis Kronberg. Watching Kronberg at work on a pastel, Goodwin remarked, “I could do that,” and Kronberg dispatched the novice with pastels to the Public Gardens, suggesting only that he sketch his impressions.
Goodwin discovered that he possessed equal gifts as a pastelist and a painter in oils. He became a familiar sight around Boston setting up his dilapidated easel in many of the city’s most picturesque spots, including T-Wharf, Beacon Hill, and Boston Common. He was fascinated with the interplay of the unchanging structures of the city against the variable effects of weather. His oeuvre thus includes sparkling, sun drenched views and fog-shrouded impressions.
Goodwin was given his first one-man exhibition at the Boston Gallery, Doll and Richards, in 1904, and in 1911 his work was included in an exhibition with other leading Boston painters at the Museum of Fine Arts. He also exhibited with the Copley Society, the Guild of Boston Artists, and the Boston Art Club.
In 1920 Goodwin married and moved to New York City, thus embarking upon a new phase in his career. He took a studio on Washington Square in Greenwich Village and two years later bought a farm in Old Chatham in New York State. He continued to enjoy success with views of New York City and the Hudson River Valley. His work was widely shown commercially and in annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
After a failed marriage, Goodwin returned to Boston in 1928. Kronberg persuaded him to come to Paris to study the French Impressionists, but on May 19, 1929 on the eve of his departure, Goodwin died. Friends discovered him in his room in the North End, his suitcase packed and his tickets in his pocket.
While not allied with any particular school or movement, Goodwin achieved a unique place in American art history as a painter of cityscapes characterized by strong color and an assured, painterly manner.
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