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Monday, 13 February 2012

Robert Goff at Brighton Museum

Robert Charles Goff (1837-1922), Hotel Metropole, Brighton, Evening c 1895. Etching

Yesterday, my friend Alexandra Loske invited me to a gallery talk in Brighton Museum. She has curated a small exhibition of the work of Robert Goff (1837 - 1922) a long-term etcher and long-term resident of Brighton & Hove: he had a studio in Holland Road and a house in Adelaide Crescent.

Goff was one of those soldiers who found something else to do after being a soldier and in his case it produced a significant body of work, popular in its time (when it was exhibited and sold in London galleries) and largely forgotten since - nowadays, the etchings can be picked up for modest sums in antique shops. His personal archive ended up years ago in the basement of Brighton Museum and has been dusted down and researched for this exhibition. Alexandra Loske has also discovered some entirely forgotten aspects of his work, including illustrations for books on Victorian London's teeming underclasses.

I liked the etchings of Brighton and of London, where the influence of Whistler is readily seen. Goff stays out of the picture, very much a quiet and patient observer and it is this which is partly responsible for the subdued atmosphere of most of the work. There are no faces, no personal encounters. You imagine a man smoking a pipe working unobtrusively at the edge of the scene he is sketching.

The exhibition, entitled Robert Goff: An Etcher in the Wake of Whistler runs at Brighton Museum until 29 April 2012.

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