For many years, Francis Goodman’s archive of negatives was held in store awaiting rediscovery and staff research time. We knew the collection contained portraits of a young Lucian Freud and other key twentieth-century figures including Henry Moore and Ian Fleming, but much of the archive was unlabelled and mixed with Goodman’s travel work. However, the possibility of staging a mini retrospective to mark the centenary of Goodman’s birth allowed me to find out more about the life and work of this photographer whose name has since been largely forgotten.

Goodman’s work first came to the National Portrait Gallery’s notice when it bought from him a small album in 1988. Mostly consisting of contact prints from the 1940s, it hinted at some of the contents of his negative archive, which he subsequently bequeathed in 1989. Sitters in the album included film star Anna May Wong, crime writer Margery Allingham at home, and Phyllis Calvert and Michael Rennie in Capri during the filming of the Golden Madonna (1949). There was also a letter from the editor of the Tatler and Bystander in 1947 thanking Goodman for his work that year. However, it was only through recent research into vintage copies of the magazine that we could see how these portraits were used.

Margery Allingham by Francis Goodman, published 23 February 1949 in The Tatler and Bystander, NPGx195047 © All Rights Reserved

Phyllis Calvert during the filming of 'The Golden Madonna' by Francis Goodman, published 1 December 1948 in The Tatler and Bystander, Private Collection © All Rights Reserved

Alongside a commercial context, personal stories also unfold when researching a photographer’s archive. In Photography magazine in 1954, Goodman commented: ‘People and places have always interested me most. I am far more interested in the people I photograph than in the pictures I take of them’. And this connection with people is clear. Some names appear repeatedly among his negative packets, suggesting long-lasting associations. Recent contact with Goodman’s descendants has brought fascinating new insights and the surviving sitters I have been fortunate to contact often remember him warmly as ‘Franzie’ and a ‘great friend’.

Fellow photographer Robin Cracknell recalled becoming ’good friends immediately’ on their first meeting and arranging to take Goodman’s portrait in his Knightsbridge flat soon after. He recently kindly donated this photograph to us which, taken shortly before Goodman died, is a counterpoint to the several earlier self-portraits already in our collection.

Self-portrait by Francis Goodman, June 1961, NPG x131107 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Goodman by Robin Cracknell, spring 1989, NPGx137367 © Robin Cracknell

Cataloguing of the archive continues and brings more discoveries, including the recently found negatives for Goodman’s sittings with Francis Bacon and David Hockney, located in unlabelled packets. I would love to hear from others with memories of ‘Franzie’ or of being photographed by him. The display of Goodman’s work can currently be seen in the Room 31 showcases. More of Goodman’s work can be explored on our website here.

Image credits

Top left: Margery Allingham by Francis Goodman, published 23 February 1949 in The Tatler and Bystander, NPGx195047 © All Rights Reserved

Top right: Phyllis Calvert during the filming of 'The Golden Madonna' by Francis Goodman, published 1 December 1948 in The Tatler and Bystander, Private Collection © All Rights Reserved

Bottom left: Self-portrait by Francis Goodman, June 1961, NPG x131107 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Bottom right: Francis Goodman by Robin Cracknell, spring 1989, NPGx137367 © Robin Cracknell

As part of the display Francis Goodman: Back in Focus

Comments

Got something to say?

Constantia Nicolaides

21 August 2014, 17:31

Dear filmbuff,
We have a copy of 'The Tatler' from 29 June 1949 (as well as many other editions) in our archives here. If you would like to access it, then do let me or our Archive staff know (email at archiveenquiry@npg.org.uk).

filmbuff

18 August 2014, 12:55

Trying to find a copy of The Tatler June 29th 1949, can anyone help?

Constantia Nicolaides

13 November 2013, 16:56

Allan,
Thank you for your message kindly telling us the location for the Hurst/ Gray sitting. Now you have the photographer's name and also a precise date! I wondered if you knew who the man whose face appears in the bottom corner is? He is shown more clearly in some of the other photographs from the sitting.

Allan Esler Smith

8 November 2013, 09:03

Good work Constantia. The Hurst/ Gray series is taken at Brian Desmond Hurst's country house Wardrobe Lodge in Princess Risborough. We had the photo but hadn't realised it was taken by Francis Goodman. More at the BDH Estate's legacy website www.briandesmondhurst.org.

Constantia Nicolaides

24 September 2013, 11:48

Jo and Mike, I’m glad you were able to see the display again. Many thanks for your kind comments, and for all your very helpful input too. There are still more developments being made with the archive – I will endeavour to keep you updated!

Jo Gutmann

22 September 2013, 17:26

Been back for another look at the exhibition, you really have done a fantastic job Constantia - Francis would have been so, so proud... as are we of him. Thank you for all you've done to bring his name to a new audience.
Jo & Mike Gutmann

Constantia Nicolaides

17 September 2013, 16:46

Correction to my last posting: Sir Frank Bowden, 3rd Bt was the grandson of Sir Frank Bowden, 1st Bt who was the founder of the Raleigh Cycle Company.

Petlover

12 September 2013, 22:08

Thanks Constantia A much fuller answer than I was expecting. Very glad to hear about the delightful look 'Chui'

Constantia Nicolaides

9 September 2013, 11:38

Thank you for your comment. The self-portrait was taken in June 1961 at Thame Park, which was the home of Sir Frank Bowden, 3rd Bt, the founder of the Raleigh Bicycle Company. The Bowden family were photographed by Goodman on several occasions throughout the 1950s until 1961 (as is evident in our labelled sequence of negatives, although there are also the many more unlabelled packets from later years, so he may have photographed them later too). Their friendship is particularly notable, as Goodman went on to work for the British Cycling Bureau as a photographer and journalist from 1966. A British Pathé video that can be viewed online shows the Bowdens at Thame Park in 1959 with their pet cheetah named ‘Chui’: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/stately-zoo/query/cheetahs This is the pet you can see in the portrait.

Petlover

8 September 2013, 17:08

Fascinating collection of images and comments. I was intrigued by the self-portrait of Goodman with a Cheetah..was this a particular pet of his or was he seeking to emulate Josephine Baker who allegedly walked around Paris with a cheetah on a lead

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