Encyclopedia of American Folk Art

By Gerard C.Wertkin; Lee Kogan | Go to book overview

Bonesteel, Michael. "Lee Godie: Michael Bonesteel Reflects on the Life and Work of the Queen Mother of Chicago Outsider Artists." Raw Vision, vol. 27 (summer 1999): 40-45.
Moss, Jessica. "Transformations of the Self." The Outsider, vol. 7, no. 1 (fall 2002): 12-13, 25.


GOLDING, WILLIAM O. (1874-1943)

was a significant African American self-taught artist of the early twentieth century, known primarily for his lively drawings of sailing vessels. His work condensed a half-century of seagoing experience into more than sixty small but lively drawings in pencil and crayon. During the 1930s, Golding was suffering from chronic bronchitis, and was registered as a patient at the United States Marine Hospital in Savannah, Georgia. In 1932 he began to draw from memory, encouraged by Margaret Stiles, a local artist and the hospital's recreation director. Information gleaned from his letters to Stiles suggests that Golding had led a hard but colorful life. Golding began his career at sea as a cabin boy at the age of eight, and later claimed to have made numerous voyages to far-flung corners of the world for more than forty-nine years.

Golding's work recalls both maritime painting and the phenomenon of memory painting in self-taught art. His images are primarily detailed, if fanciful, descriptions of ships he had seen or served on, and views of exotic ports. The works are imaginatively composed to include activities and landmarks of specific places: sailing ships chasing whales in the Arctic, South Sea ports featuring erupting volcanoes, and Chinese architecture. Golding apparently saw all or many of the sights he recorded, and pointedly mentions in one of his letters that he could not draw Bali or Hawaii because he had never seen them.

Golding developed a style all his own that is easily recognized. His earliest works feature some of his trademarks, including an ever-present sun resembling a compass rose (a navigational symbol found on nautical maps) bursting forth from behind clouds, buoys, flocks of birds, lighthouses, and nameplates. Golding depicted historically famous watercraft such as the Constitution, which he may have seen in Savannah in 1931, as well as, in rare instances, ships that predated him. Golding additionally portrayed a variety of ports of call in his work, including locations in China, the Philippines, Java, Newfoundland, Trinidad, Cape Horn, the Rock of Gibraltar, and Plymouth, England.

Golding's last drawings are dated 1939. He died in 1943, at the Marine Hospital in Savannah. Although his output was relatively small, Golding's work began to achieve popular notice with a 1970 article in Art in America, and was included in the seminal exhibition, "Missing Pieces: Georgia Folk Art 1776-1976," in 1977.

See also African American Folk Art (Vernacular Art); Maritime Folk Art; Painting, Memory.

King, Pamela, and Harry H. DeLorme. Looking Back: Art in Savannah, 1900-1950. Savannah, Ga., 1996.
Wadsworth, Anna. Missing Pieces: Georgia Folk Art, 1776-1976. Atlanta, Ga., 1976.



an early-nineteenth-century painter, created sympathetic portraits of family and friends in the community and surrounding areas of New York State where she lived. Economic necessity was thought to motivate the young woman, though there is no evidence to corroborate this. One scholar suggests that Goldsmith became an itinerant painter to support her parents. Although there are no advertisements in newspapers from the communities in which her patrons resided, proof that she traveled and painted portraits for residents of Brookfield, North Brookfield, Hamilton, Lebanon, Cooperstown, Hartwick, Toddsville, and Hubbardsville is documented in her own records between 1826 and 1832. Goldsmith stopped seeking professional commissions in 1832, the year she married George Addison Throop, a patron and a member of a family for whom she painted. Their marriage followed a correspondence with Throop in which Gold-smith voiced her concerns about their different religious affiliations (she was a devout Baptist, he was a Universalist), the fact that she was two years older than he, and that her teeth were partially artificial.

The legacy of this young woman consists of watercolors on paper and ivory, as well as portraits in oil. Her friendship albums were filled with poetry, interspersed with decorative motifs of birds, flowers, musical instruments, landscapes, illustrated copies of prints, and a mourning picture. The artist left correspondence, her worktable, and a tin paint box, with watercolor powders wrapped in newspapers and oils stored in tins.

Goldsmith's masterpieces are two group portraits, one of the Lyman Day Family (1823), and the other of the Talcott Family (1832). These group portraits, important documents of social history, are replete with


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Encyclopedia of American Folk Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Entries vii
  • Introduction xxvii
  • A 1
  • B 35
  • Bibliography 75
  • C 79
  • Bibliography 107
  • Bibliography 111
  • D 113
  • Bibliography 144
  • E 145
  • Bibliography 153
  • F 161
  • Bibliography 166
  • Bibliography 171
  • G 189
  • Bibliography 203
  • Bibliography 210
  • H 217
  • Bibliography 225
  • Bibliography 235
  • I 247
  • Bibliography 249
  • J 251
  • K 269
  • Bibliography 273
  • L 279
  • M 293
  • Bibliography 309
  • Bibliography 311
  • N 337
  • O 349
  • P 355
  • Bibliography 388
  • Q 411
  • R 421
  • Bibliography 433
  • S 447
  • Bibliography 450
  • Bibliography 472
  • Bibliography 484
  • Bibliography 490
  • Bibliography 494
  • Bibliography 496
  • T 509
  • U 527
  • V 529
  • W 539
  • Bibliography 540
  • Bibliography 546
  • Bibliography 556
  • Y 561
  • Index 569


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