The Swing (1850) by Frederick Goodall. Engraved by E. Goodall. Oil on canvas. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1845. [Click on image to enlarge it.] Source: Hathi Trust e-version of the 1862 Art-Journal. Text and formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Michigan and the Hathi Trust Digital Library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]

Art-Journal Commentary

The beautiful picture from which this engraving is taken is in the collection of James Fallows, Esq., of Sunnybank, Manchester—a collection very rich in examples of the most eminent British artists.

It is pleasant, almost at the outset of our task, to acknowledge our debt to those gentlemen who, having gathered wealth in commerce, or in manufacture, have dispensed large portions of it to rewards that, in later years, foster the genius and recompense the labours of the winters and sculptors of Great Britain. Mr. Fallows is one of their most liberal patrons; and Manchester has undoubtedly, more than any other city of the kingdom, sustained and elevated the Arts of the country.

‘The Swing’ is one of the “best esteemed” of all Mr. Frederick Goodall’s pictures; it is so pleasant in character and subject, perpetuates a scene so familiar to all who love children, and can join in their simple and innocent amusements, that although the artist has produced works of higher aim and loftier purpose, he has produced none calculated to be more generally popular.

It is to such sources, indeed, that Mr. Goodall is mainly indebted for his fame; he has studied nature principally in the by-ways of life, and endeavoured to reach the heart by appealing to its gentler and holier sympathies. There are few mothers "who will not look 'on' this picture with pleasure, recallin similar incidents, tracing, it may be, in its cheerful portraitures, the semblances of those they have loved, and delighting to look on a scene that is suggestive only of grateful memories and happy associations. The playfellows have assembled in one of these fine domains surrounding so many of our old and noble family mansions:-—

“The stately homes of England,
New beautiful they stand!
Amidst their tall ancestral tree,
O’er all the pleasant land.
The deer across their greensward bound
Through shade and sunny gleam;
And the swan glides past them with the sound
Of some rejoicing stream.

* * * * *

“The free fair homes of England!
Long, long in hut and hail
May hearts of native proof be reared,
Toguard each hallowed wall!
And green for ever be the groves,
And bright the flowery sod,
Where first the child’s glad spirit loves Its country and its God!”

Above the happy group assembled to wile away a summer’s afternoon, the oak spreads its long, sinewy arms; at their feet the tender water-lily floats on the surface of the quiet pool; and, beyond the clumps of thickly-planted trees in the middle distance, is seen an expanse of rich, undulating landscape. The figures are well placed pictorially, and are agreeably varied in position. The young lady in the swing tosses her head with a kind of childish conceit that all eyes are upon her.

The children introduced by Mr, Goodall into this picture are all portraits: three of them are his own boys; two are the sons of Mr. Page, the eminent engineer; and two, the daughters of Mr. Barker, the historic painter; the elder young lady is the artist’s sister, Emily. The work has, therefore, the value that can be derived from truth aided by fancy; but the painter was not confined by any rules that controlled his imagination. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1845. The engraving is from the burin of Mr. Edward Goodall, the artist’s father, who has for a very long period held, and maintains, foremost rank among British engravers, and who has enjoyed the rare happiness of seeing four of his children attain eminence among British painters—Mr. F. Goodall, Mr. E. Goodall, Mr. W. Goodall, and, especially, Miss Eliza Goodall (Mrs. Wild). [46]


“Selected Pictures from the collection of James Fallows, Esq., at Sunydale, Manchester: ‘The Swing’” Art-Journal. (1862). Hathi Trust Digital Library digitized from a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 3 April 2014.

Last modified 3 April 2014