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The son of an artist, Frederick Goodall began his artistic career with a precocious debut at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1837 with four watercolours. His first essays in oil were genre pictures and landscapes, but later he turned to subjects from British history. In 1852 he became an Associate of the Royal Academy. After the trip to the Near East, which significantly shaped his artistic development, he made a specialty of genre scenes and biblical subjects based on his first hand experience of Egypt.

Goodall made his first trip to Egypt when he was thirty-six. Armed with letters of introduction from his friend David Roberts, he arrived in Cairo in the autumn of 1858 and was based there until April the following year. By chance he met Carl Haag and the two men sketched and travelled together, making expeditions to the pyramids at Gizah and to Suez.

The first pictures that Goodall exhibited when he returned to England attracted a great deal of attention and the admiration of Roberts, Landseer and Clarkson Stanfield. Elected a full Academician in 1864, he moved a few years later to Avenue Road, Regent’s Park, where his studio was full of mashrabiyyah woodwork and other Egyptian artefacts.

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