The display of Robert Goff’s etchings and watercolours in the Prints and Drawings Gallery of Brighton Museum & Art Gallery (until 27 April 2012) shows what a peripatetic lifestyle Goff led and how much he enjoyed travelling. However, he seems to have been particularly drawn to Sussex throughout his life and kept a place in Hove for the best part of 33 years. His love of Brighton and Hove is reflected in some of his finest and most popular etchings, such as The West Pier, The Metropole Hotel or Brighton Sands.
Goff moved into a large house on the east side of Adelaide Crescent in or around 1889. He left the house in 1903 to move to Italy with his second wife Clarissa, but kept a studio in Holland Road until his death in 1922. This studio was probably purpose-built for Goff in the 1890s. It was a white, double gabled house that backed onto his home in Adelaide Crescent and was connected to it via some steps which are still there today. In this studio he would probably have had a small to medium sized printing press and many of the etchings in our collection were almost certainly produced there. Even after he left to live in Italy, Goff remained involved with the Brighton and Hove art scene by exhibiting his work at the Brighton Arts Club and as an active member of the Brighton Fine Arts Sub-Committee. It seems that Goff got on very well with Henry Roberts, Chief Librarian and Curator of Brighton Museum from 1906.
This image shows an etching from 1912 of his studio in Holland Road. It is a lovingly composed view of a place that was clearly very important to him. The mother and child in the foreground may be significant: Goff’s first wife Beatrice and their young son Francis died a few years after they had moved to Hove. These figures might be a deliberate or unconscious association with this place. Goff also included a very similar view of his studio in miniature as part of a large index plate for a catalogue of his work in 1898. In this small version the woman and child are replaced by a solitary male figure.
Although Holland Road is much changed now the house still exists. No trace of Goff remains there, but in his house in Adelaide Crescent (converted into separate apartments after he left) there are a couple of large Moorish mirrors which he probably brought back from his travels to North Africa and left behind because they would have been too large for Wick Studio.
Curator of the exhibition Robert Goff – An Etcher in the Wake of Whistler