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George Goodwin Kilburne – Biography

Below is a short biography of George Goodwin Kilburne, a Victorian genre painter. His specialization included accurately drawn interior figures. He preferred watercolor based paintings.

George Goodwin Kilburne
A portrait of George Goodwin Kilburne

He also had wood engraving skills. Even though he favored watercolors, his paintings based on oil and canvas are found as well.

Early Life of George Goodwin Kilburne

George Goodwin Kilburne was born at Hakford, Norfolk – a county in East Anglia, England on the 24th of July, 1839. He was the first of the three children of Goodwin Kilburne and Rebecca Button.

He went to Hawkhurst School, Kent which also happened to be his father’s old school. At the age of 15, he finished his schooling and was immediately sent to London for a five-year apprenticeship program with the Dalziel Brothers.

George Goodwin Kilburne
An interior of a Barn with figures. The engraving by Dalziel Brothers, 1842

The Dalziel Brothers or the Brothers Dalziel, they are known as were a highly reputed and productive firm of Victorian engravers. It was founded by George Dalziel and his brother Edward Dalziel.

He maintained a great record of work during the apprenticeship. He was known to be ‘industrious and constant’ by fellow employers at the firm. His training in engraving helped him magnify details in figures and made his skill of portrayal more and more accurate.

Soon, he developed the interest in on paper painting and decided to carry out his career as a watercolor painter.

George Goodwin Kilburne’s Career as an Artist

He realized there was more benefit in monetary terms in watercolor and oil paintings. He, therefore, left wood engravings completely. Although, he was known to excel at it.

He was known for his portrayal of the upper class and paintings portraits for fashionable beauties of the Victorian era. He had the ability to depict beauty with the richness of dress and interiors.

Compared to the PRB or the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood of the 18th century, Kilburne’s work was considered richly traditional.

George Goodwin Kilburne
A beautiful painting by George Goodwin Kilburne.

In 1875, he traveled across Italy and painted in Rome for about three years. He also worked in Venice in 1876. He painted in Switzerland, Wales and sketched for a lot of locals in Normandy.

After the death of Napolean the third, he was appointed by Empress Eugenie to paint many pictures of her at Chislehurst, Kent, South England.

George Goodwin Kilburne
“Penning a Letter” by George Goodwin Kilburne

He took the contract of designing Christmas cards and Holiday greetings for firms like Raphael Tuck and Sons and De la Rue.

He painted a number of black and white pictures for The Graphic and The Illustrated London News and the famous Cassells magazine. This was during the late 19th century.

Sisters Ggkilburne
“Sisters” by George Goodwin Kilburne at the Athenaeum

In 1866, he was elected as a member of New Watercolour Society (RI). In 1898, he became a member of the Royal Miniature Society before which he was already a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) in 1883.

George Goodwin Kilburne Artwork

He exhibited his work at the Royal Academy between 1863 – 1918. This was a long period for any European Artist and a huge achievement. He exhibited 37 paintings at the Royal Academy during this time.

“Tea for two” by George Goodwin Kilburne at the Athenaeum

His work is still found at the Manchester City Art Gallery, the Royal Glasgow Institue of Fine Arts, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and the Birmingham Society of Artists.

Personal Life of George Goodwin Kilburne

George Goodwin Kilburne married Janet Dalziel in 1862. She was the daughter of Robert Dalziel, the brother of George Goodwin Kilburne’s employers. They were married at the Old Church, St Pancras in London.

They had three sons and two daughters. One of the sons – George Goodwin Kilburne Jr, became a well-known painter of animals and birds. the family lived in Hampstead, London until Janet Dalziel’s passing away in 1882.

In 1889, he is known to have married Edith Golightly, who was 34 years younger to him. They had two children – Edith May and Constance Ivy.

George Goodwin Kilburne Biography

Other than his qualities as an artist, Kilbourne was known to have sportsmanship. He was often found hunting or cycling. He also played golf. In his self-portraits, he depicted his collection of armors and swords. He was compassionable and absolutely friendly in nature.

While working for the Raphael Tuck and Sons, he designed greeting cards and was involved in the designing sector. He had to work with minute detailing and textures due to which he suffered from a serious attack of gout in his eyes.

Later Life and Death

George Goodwin Kilburne remained a painter until the end. For many years he resided at his house in Hampstead, London. During the time of his death, he was living at the Swiss Cottage, London.

However, he breathed last at his daughter’s house. His daughter – Florence, the daughter of him and Janet Dalziel. This was at Hampstead, London.

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