The American Museum in Britain – based at Claverton in Bath – is hosting Jeremiah Goodman’s first European show – a chronicle of stylish room portraits which pre-date the wide use of photography.
Jeremiah is revered within the interior design and architectural communities for his rare ability to infuse empty rooms with warmth and personality.
Jeremiah, who was born in Niagara Falls, New York in 1922, attended the famous Lafayette High School in Buffalo. Moving to New York, he studied at the Franklin School of Professional Art and achieved success as an advertising illustrator, contributing to publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Interior Design Magazine.
This work brought him to the attention of both interior and industrial designers such as Mario Buatta and Raymond Lowey, and leading architects including Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome.
Alongside commercial activity in advertising and magazines, Jeremiah made numerous portraits of interiors. These paintings, which depicted the homes of design greats such as Caroline Herrera and Diana Vreeland, as well as celebrities including Greta Garbo and Hermione Gingold, were produced as a result of his meeting the great English actor Sir John Gielgud in 1948.
Jeremiah says: ‘Before I met him I painted interiors for my own pleasure, but he invited me to England, where I went in 1949, and began to introduce me to his friends. It was all very Brideshead Revisited and I found myself in the company of people like Cecil Beaton and Ivor Novello. I was invited to stay in glorious country houses.’
Back in New York, Jeremiah continued to make portraits of the homes of those in the upper reaches of the fashion and decorating worlds. His work is in the permanent collections of both the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Jeremiah sometimes works in oil or acrylic, but the majority of his work is painted on illustration board in a combination of transparent watercolour and opaque gouache – a medium of which he has masterly command. They are produced in a loose and informal style yet display the particular detail of fabric texture and light on chandeliers very precisely.
The exhibition will be open from 19 April – 1 July 2016 in the Coach House.
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