The curve of an antique secretaire, a swath of silk curtains and the movement of a master painting live exquisitely in the renderings of artist to the grand, Jeremiah Goodman. His works are so outrightly splendid, viewers want to walk right into the marvelous milieu the late Mr. Goodman created. Revered interior decorators and social fixtures alike called on Jeremiah to immortalize their spaces in paint and it is our good fortune that in 2006, he published a tome celebrating their cherished quarters. Yesterday morning, I was in the doldrums; a place of plain thinking only cured by the art of inspiration. A quick survey of my coffee table books later, I was transfixed by the elegant living rooms, worldly dining rooms and enchanting bedrooms in A Romantic Vision. A few pages in, I realized that the one year anniversary of Mr. Goodman’s passing is in two weeks and I’m grateful for the timely opportunity to celebrate his art by sharing a few of my favorite renderings below.
Jeremiah imagined his arrival in New York City as a young artist to be an exciting welcome full of professional promise and he was spot on. He started out as an illustrator for Lord and Taylor’s newspaper adverts showcasing interiors and fashion which caught the eye of Interior Design magazine’s editor. Goodman illustrated the cover of the magazine every month for 15 years all while having work published in House and Garden, The New York Times and Harper’s Bazaar. Esteemed commissions from decorators the likes of Billy Baldwin and Henri Samuel led to him painting the private homes of First Lady Nancy Reagan, Cecil Beaton, Besty Bloomingdale and Diana Vreeland to name a small few.
Many qualities of an artist transfer to that of a designer such as proportion, scale and color all of which are punctiliously mastered in a Goodman rendering. It comes as no surprise that Jeremiah had wanted to become a decorator before pursuing a career as a painter. Photographer Bruce Weber once remarked “In reality our rooms are a mess and filled with books and dogs’ beds. But Jeremiah’s interpretation of these rooms always makes one look as if they have the crème de la crème of taste.” A fine balance of real life recording in combination with artistic liberty keeps the viewer guessing as to what Goodman drew from directly and what was added for flair.
Jeremiah’s expert impressions have become a historical archive of interior decoration in the latter part of the 20th century. The pieces from his patrons’ collections of art, decorative objet, books and artifacts have been preserved in their interior habitat, a rare treat to look in on. To capture these distinguished delights, he would travel to Europe, Asia and beyond. Goodman would return Stateside to his Big Apple apartment and a carriage house in East Hampton that he painstakingly restored. He once had friend and decorator Albert Hadley come by and help him rearrange his entire living room only for them both to realize that it was perfect in its original state. Of his varied aesthetic aptitudes Jeremiah mused “the artist today should be a Renaissance-type man who applies his talents in many fields.” I hope Mr. Goodman’s inspired ouvre helps you, like it did me, to take a break from the bustle of life and rouse a dormant passion or two – whatever they may be!
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, you might like a similar one I wrote about portrait artist Aaron Shikler. It’s a bit more history heavy and full of beautiful portraits of faces you will most certainly recognize! Read it here.