Description & Technical information

The painting – which depicts a diverse cross-section of Victorian figures gathered outside a post office as they receive news of the war in India – is signed by the artist and dated 1849-51. 

Goodall painted three versions of the present work; the larger, entitled ‘The Post Office’, was exhibited at the British Institution in 1850, whilst the smaller version is today in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Date:  1849
Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Signature: Signed and dated 1849-51.
Dimensions:  cm (43 x 54 x 3 inches)
Provenance: 1860s; with Vicars Brothers Ltd, London. Private collection of Sir Julian Goldsmid. 1896; Christie’s, where purchased by Nathan Mitchell, 18 Regents Park Road, London.
1972; sold at Bonhams, London. 1989; sold at Sotheby's, London.
1990: with Haynes Fine Art, Broadway. Thence in private UK collection.


In 1862, an edition of The Art Journal recalled the paintings great popularity and discussed the figures portrayed;

“In front of the door is a group of ‘village politicians’, foremost among whom is the barber whose business it is to gain the earliest intelligence of news that he may retail it to his customers: he holds in his hand a copy of The Times and is reading some war tidings of importance, for the word “Victory” appears on the broad sheet. The brawny figure with the bare arms is the blacksmith, owner of the wicked-looking bull terrier by his side. Nearer to the spectator is the ‘boots’ of the village inn who probably acts also as occasional ostler. The youth in a velveteen jacket is from the mansion and is come for the squire’s letters, and a boy with a board filled with fine fish completes the group. On the other side of the picture are two figures to whom that stolid, round-faced post-boy has brought anything but good tidings; a woman and her boy now in all probability the widow and the fatherless, an open letter with a black seal lies before them; it tells them the ‘victory’ has made them desolate. At least it may be presumed this is the artist’s intention, for the drum at the boy’s side may be taken to signify that he is a soldier’s son. In advance of these is another woman reading a letter to an old Chelsea pensioner and his wife. There is no sad intelligence in her epistle, her child may continue its gambol with the kitten unchecked by its mother whose hour of tribulation has not yet come”.

Exhibitions: 1860; ‘Artists, Sculptors & Architects’ exhibition in Paris.
1901; exhibited in Sheffield.
1902; ‘French and English Painters of the 19th Century’ exhibition at the Guildhall in London. 1902 exhibited in Glasgow.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints