Paul Sidney Goodwin

also known as

William Young



William Young was the pseudonym used from 1919 to 1944 by the British/Australian artist Paul Sidney Goodwin.

Goodwin was born on 28 January 1875 in the family home situated at Cambridge Road, Southampton, England. He was known by his middle name, Sidney, and was the elder son and fourth child born to William Sidney Goodwin and his wife Elizabeth.

William was a soldier in the British Army who rose to the rank of Quartermaster-sergeant in the Royal Engineers. He travelled extensively in Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East on survey duties before being stationed in Southampton where he married Elizabeth Young in 1865.

For the first half of the 1880s Sidney attended the St Martin-in-the-fields School in London and the family lived at 1 St Martins Place, immediately adjacent to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. Being in such close proximity to major London galleries reinforced the love of art shared by Sidney, his younger brother Charles and their father William. After returning to Southampton, William became a member of the Southampton Art Society (SAS) and served on its council from 1889 until his death in 1915. Sidney also joined and became a regular exhibitor who received critical acclaim from his very first exhibition when aged only fourteen.

Sidney returned to London in 1894 to study at the Croydon School of Art and in the same year commenced exhibiting with the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts (RHA) in Dublin and his association with both the SAS and RHA was to continue for many years.

In addition to the support received from his father, Sidney's artistic endeavours were also greatly encouraged by his uncle, Albert Goodwin (1845-1932), a member of the Royal Watercolour Society. Albert, the most successful painter of this talented family, studied with the Pre-Raphaelite painters Arthur Hughes and Ford Madox Brown and was influenced by J. M. W. Turner. Like Sidney, his talent was observed at a young age and his first painting exhibited at the Royal Academy was hung when he was only fifteen.

A restlessness for travel, a passion he shared with other family members, constantly compelled Sidney to explore the world and accompanied by Albert Goodwin he visited Canada in 1890 when only a teenager. Sidney returned to Canada on multiple occasions working as a farm labourer and painting when he could, his riding skills and love of horses securing him work on North American ranches as a cowboy. Despite his regular travel Sidney continued to exhibit with the RHA, SAS as well as the Bournemouth Art Society (BAS). His stated address remained that of his father's home in Southampton although by 1911 he resided partly in Canada, partly in Southampton and partly with his sister Carmine in Dublin.

Sidney was a 39-year-old, unmarried man when WWI commenced. The British armed forces initially consisted solely of volunteers and the commonly held belief was that the war would be over in months. In December 1915 William died in Southampton but Sidney was not present at his father's funeral. In January 1916 conscription of unmarried men aged over 18 and less than 41 was introduced but compulsory service did not apply to men in Ireland and as Sidney had been living in Canada, England and Ireland since at least 1911 it is likely he declared himself a resident of Dublin ensuring he avoided conscription based on both age and place of residence. It was also likely he was again overseas and uncontactable during this period explaining the absence from his father's funeral.

After his father's death in 1915 Sidney ceased exhibiting with the SAS and in 1916, he was no longer listed as a council member, a position he had held since 1911. Throughout the war however he continued exhibiting at the RHA seeming to confirm he had officially adopted Dublin as his home.

WWI ended on 11 November 1918 and Sidney's Australian paintings, signed as W. Young, date from 1919. It is likely he departed Dublin for Sydney soon after the armistice was signed but the reasons for his permanent emigration are unclear. Australia was a land of new horizons and opportunities for those seeking to distance themselves from the exhausting European war, but merely wanting a new life in a new country does not necessitate a change of name and not only was his name changed, he went to great lengths to remain completely anonymous.

William Young lived a financially independent existence and was comfortable, if not wealthy, during the war in post-depression Sydney. He bequeathed the real estate he owned to his friend Sophie Barker and the remainder of his estate was left in equal shares to his sisters Carmine and Daisy and his brother Charles.

Sidney Goodwin, also known as William Young, died at home in the Sydney suburb of Woollahra from the effects of a cerebral haemorrhage on 23 September 1944; he was four months short of his seventieth birthday. Unmarried and without children, his legacy was his art but his desire for anonymity resulted in him flying under the radar of the Australian art fraternity between the wars. After his death he slipped into artistic obscurity and his watercolour painting was subsequently under-appreciated and under-valued. By viewing the body of work spanning seven decades, it is clear his most important cultural contribution was as a pictorial historian who adeptly captured everyday images of maritime, urban and rural life from many locations around the globe.

He is represented in the collections of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, New England Regional Art Museum, Wollongong Art Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery and Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery.

Biography © Stephen Robertson Marshall. Reproduced with permission.

Goodwin Gallery

Young Gallery