I hadn’t thought about James Alipius Goold, the first Catholic bishop of Melbourne, for years. The fact that I even knew who he was placed me in a minority that I discovered includes Colin Holden. Holden was the Redmond Barry Fellow at the State Library of Victoria in 2010, and his project was a study of the combined holdings of the prints of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) held by the University of Melbourne’s Baillieu Library and the State Library. In the course of his research he met with Tom Hazell, who had sold to the library in 1974 and 1975 a copy of the first Paris edition of all the prints of Piranesi. Hazell had said they were from his family collection and Holden was interested to find out more about their history. Hazell then revealed that he had been acting as an agent for the Archdiocese of Melbourne and that the volumes had been part of Goold’s library. The dissembling was devised to disguise the fact that the Church was disposing of its heritage, while the sale raised funds, in a twist of logic, to support the work of the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission, whose purpose is to protect that heritage.
A first Paris edition of Piranesi is very rare and very valuable, its presence in any library is remarkable as it has always been greatly prized, and few complete sets remain. The edition was made between 1800 and 1807 by Francesco and Pietro Piranesi, the sons and heirs of Giovanni Battista. They had fled Italy with all the precious engraved copper plates at the fall of the republic to the safety of Napoleonic patronage, and almost immediately on arrival announced their intention to produce the edition. The copy in the Baillieu Library still has substantial vestiges of the original French binding with later Italian repairs, and tickets that identify the binders.
Holden told me this story with some excitement. He knew of my past interest in Goold. In 1998 I had helped Fr John Rogan curate an exhibition held in the ambulatory chapels of St Patrick’s Cathedral to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Goold as the first bishop of Melbourne, as well as to celebrate the completion of the restoration of the cathedral. Rogan was the first person to describe the books, paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects acquired by Goold as the Goold Collection, and many fine examples were on display. He thus began a reassessment of Goold, but this work was cut short by his premature death two years later.
Goold’s legacy had been obscured by great changes within the church. After the death of Daniel Mannix in 1963 his long-suffering, by then ailing and almost blind coadjutor archbishop, Justin Simmonds, assumed the see. Vatican II was in process, and when Simmonds retired after only three years, the opportunity for renewal was seized. The departure of the Jesuits from St Patrick’s College coincided with the arrival of a new archbishop, Perth-born Vatican diplomat James Knox. Knox oversaw the demolition of the school and the old Bishop’s Palace built by Goold, replacing these with a new diocesan centre. In the cathedral the demands of reformed liturgical practice led to the construction of a new sanctuary, main altar, and the removal of many of the fittings, paintings and objects that Goold had acquired. Delicate stencil work was overpainted, metres of gold carpet covered the mosaic tiles of the ambulatory chapels, and a brutalist altar installed in 1972 and designed by Yunken Freeman Griffiths and Simpson, the architects of the diocesan centre, dominated the space.
Goold watched over this iconoclasm in effigy. His face is carved on the right-hand side capital of the arch over the crossing and on the opposite side is that of Pope Pius IX, who reigned for most of Goold’s episcopate and raised Goold to the status of metropolitan archbishop in 1877. The world that Goold knew, and much of his legacy, was demolished: and the dust of its downfall with the concrete that replaced it obscured a full understanding of his part in creating a European Australia. The narrowing judgement of history passed grim sentence in John Grigsby’s 1972 entry for the Australian Dictionary of Biography, which concluded that Goold ‘had no broad views or scholastic achievement and ruled his archdiocese with the conservatism and single-mindedness of an Irish bishop in an Irish see’.
The exhibition challenged the view of Goold as a bigot, and Holden’s discovery that Goold had owned the Piranesi edition challenged my understanding of his ambition as a collector. When, how and why did Goold make such a bold purchase? Goold left very few clues about his collecting. His diaries focus on the day-to-day work of a very busy bishop, with almost no personal reflections. His correspondence tells us something about his family connections, but again is mostly businesslike. During his almost forty-year episcopate he made five visits to Rome and other parts of Europe, so he had the opportunity to buy, but a purchase on this scale would have been very expensive. In the absence of other evidence, Holden concluded that Goold probably had the means after receiving an inheritance following the death of his uncle Thomas Hynes in 1869, also a missionary bishop. This would place the purchase in either his fourth or fifth and final visit to Rome.
Holden’s project resulted in a book, two exhibitions and a conference in 2014, for which I was invited to give a paper. I decided to see what else I could find out about Goold’s library. On my first visit to the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission I discovered a five-page handwritten description by Tom Hazell just after the demolition of the Bishop’s Palace. It describes a collection typical of a bishop: theology, philosophy, liturgy, scripture and the papacy. The more unusual parts were works on art and architecture, including the Piranesi, medicine, law, poetry but not fiction, a wide range in history, and reference texts including dictionaries and encyclopaedias. Hazell gave clues to the destination of some of these volumes: the books on the papacy and some of the theological texts were transferred to the Seminary Library, then at Mount Waverley, and a check of the catalogue for the current Seminary Library in East Melbourne suggests that some are still there. The diocesan archivist, Rachel Naughton, explained that for many years the remaining books, minus the Piranesi, sat on open shelves in the Historical Commission, which itself moved on at least two occasions. Volumes have disappeared, books from other collections have been added, and now the remainder are boxed with a bare listing on the containers and stored in the archive.
Intrigued by this description, I made a second visit with Holden, determined to see what might be in the boxes. This time we made a really important discovery. This was a complete inventory of Goold’s library compiled in 1866, which revealed that by this time he owned 859 titles and, given the many multivolume works, well over a thousand books—all collected within less than twenty years of his arrival in Melbourne. The greatest surprise was that the Piranesi volumes are listed in this inventory. This proves he most likely bought them on his second visit to Europe between June 1858 and December 1859 and marks Goold as an ambitious collector rather than an opportunistic spender of an inheritance.
The absence of any personal reflection by Goold on his collecting or indeed his collection made writing a paper a challenge. I decided to try to give it some context in the cultural landscape of colonial Melbourne. I remembered discussing with John Rogan the coincidence of Goold the collector for the Church and Redmond Barry as a collector for the Public Library. Rogan felt that they had very little in common, yet the idea stayed with me.
Goold and Barry were born just seven months apart, Goold a member of a prominent though not at the time prosperous Catholic merchant family in Cork, Barry a younger son of the Cork Anglo-Irish landed gentry. They both benefited from an education that owed much to the neoclassical imagination of the eighteenth century, and both completed higher education, Barry at Trinity College Dublin, Goold at the Augustinian seminary in Rome. These parallel lives may never have crossed, so great was the gap of religion and class, were it not for a decision in 1837 by Goold to emigrate as a missionary to Australia in search of souls and one by Barry the following year as a farmer or lawyer in search of fortune. Goold arrived in Sydney in February 1838 and spent the next ten years building parishes in the western hinterland; Barry arrived in Sydney in September 1839 but left after two months to escape the ignominy of his scandalous affair with a married woman on the voyage out. His destination in November that year was the muddy settlement of Melbourne in the Port Phillip District, the kind of frontier outpost where men of energy could make or remake their reputations as well as their fortunes.
By the time Goold arrived in Melbourne as its first Catholic bishop in October 1848, Barry was established as a lawyer and prominent in the cultural life of the town. Goold left for his first visit to Europe in May 1851. By his return in March 1853 the Port Phillip District had become the Colony of Victoria and was undergoing a rapid transformation following the discovery of gold. This added to the complexity of Goold’s work, with increasing need for churches and schools, but it also increased his revenue, enabling bolder action. Redmond Barry was now a judge of the Supreme Court, chancellor of a university yet to have a site and president of a public library that was still only a goat paddock between the hospital and the gaol.
It was in these two great public projects that their lives finally intersected. The university was to be modelled on London University, a secular institution. The great northern arc of its eventual site north of the city was equally divided between the principal Christian denominations of Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican to provide residential colleges, but the curriculum was to be free of religion and professors could not be in holy orders. This reflected a key tenet of colonial liberalism, which sought to create a community free of the sectarian bitterness that divided the old world. To maintain this balance Barry ensured equal representation from the churches on the university council and Goold, a council member, found himself at the table with the Anglican bishop Perry. The two bishops formed an unlikely alliance when Goold effectively reinforced the secular constitution by opposing chairs in moral philosophy, Hebrew and metaphysics ‘on the grounds of their being likely to be abused to the injury of religion by Professors of loose morals and sceptical minds’. Goold was not a frequent attender at council meetings but he did provide support. On his second visit to Europe between June 1858 and December 1859 he purchased in Rome a complete set of the definitive editions of classical and Christian texts by the great philologist and expert on palimpsests, Cardinal Angelo Mai. He presented this carefully chosen gift of contemporary scholarship of nine titles in forty-six volumes to the university—one of the earliest donations for its library.
Goold’s collection and the extent to which he shared Barry’s vision are more apparent in the Public Library. The 1866 Intercolonial Exhibition in the hall built for the purpose boasted a Gothic court. Reflecting the success of A.W.N. Pugin’s Gothic court at London’s Great Exhibition in 1851, it also reflected a building boom in Melbourne, where Gothic was the style of choice for churches, and the biggest project of all was St Patrick’s Cathedral. William Wilkinson Wardell, a student of Pugin, arrived in Melbourne in 1858. Impressed by his credentials, Goold commissioned him to complete a cathedral on Eastern Hill. This was Wardell’s first private project in Australia. He incorporated some of the existing structure into a truly grand and enormous church. Goold was its champion and much criticised for its extravagance. He was closely involved with its construction and details of its decoration, and many of the exhibits in the 1866 Gothic court were in effect a loan from Goold, as they were destined for St Patrick’s.
Goold shared the contemporary interest in exhibitions. His diary notes a visit to the 1861 Exhibition in Melbourne, and on 14 August 1867 he visited the Exhibition in Paris. Goold bought from the 1880 Exhibition in Melbourne a full set of stained glass by Mayer & Company of Munich, which was installed in the Chapel of the Holy Souls in St Patrick’s. But his greatest contribution to exhibitions in Melbourne was his loans for the Exhibition of Works of Art, Ornamental and Decorative Art held in the Exhibition Hall at the Public Library from March to June 1869.
Known as the Loan Exhibition, this filled the Great Hall and the temporary galleries built for the 1866 Exhibition and went far beyond paintings, as it included categories for casts, sculpture, engravings, china, printing and bookbinding, and, under a category called ‘miscellaneous’, an impressive array of Indigenous artefacts. Goold lent twenty-four paintings, mostly religious in subject and copies of old masters, but he did have a work called Buffalo Ranges by Eugene von Guerard and his dean, John Fitzpatrick, lent seven paintings, including two by von Guerard. Goold also lent a sketch by a Carl Valoeus, twelve prints on religious themes by lesser known printmakers, two chromolithographs, a bust of Pope Pius IX, a cast of a bust of Bishop O’Connell, an ivory of the dead Christ, two vases carved from wood, a bronze of a pope enthroned blessing the people, a terracotta dead Christ, and an illuminated address presented to himself!
My discussion of Goold as a collector, and especially his paintings, sparked the interest of Professor Jaynie Anderson, and together with the visiting keynote presenter at the conference, Professor Luigi Ficacci, we visited St Patrick’s Cathedral, the Diocesan Historical Commission and the cathedral presbytery to see Goold’s paintings. Many survive, some are copies or pastiches, but several appear to be genuine late Baroque works, and some stood out. One vast canvas hanging in the baptistery drew special attention. Neoclassical in style, it depicts the finding of Jesus in the temple by his parents, not at the moment of discovery but when he rebukes them, saying he must be about his father’s work. For many years it was attributed to Jacques Stella (1596–1657) until a visiting curator from the Louvre decided it was a copy of a very similar work now in a church in Andelys. The two professors were not convinced of this and Anderson pursued the attribution to remarkable conclusions. She discovered that it is the painting commissioned in 1641 by François Sublet de Noyers (1578–1645), the protector of the Jesuits in France, for the Church of the Jesuit Noviciate in Paris, dedicated to St Francis Xavier and consecrated in 1642. Following the suppression of the Jesuits and the destruction of their noviciate, the painting found its way into the extraordinary collection of Cardinal Joseph Fesch (1763–1839). Fesch was the uncle of Napoleon, and sometime imperial ambassador to the Holy See. He amassed a collection of more than 16,000 works and following the second abdication of his nephew he retired to Rome to live among their splendour. His palace was open for visitors and Goold may well have seen the collection while studying and working in Rome. He certainly bought from it, for while a substantial portion of Fesch’s collection was bequeathed to his native Ajaccio in Corsica and to Lyons, his episcopal see, much was sold.
There is a tantalising suggestion of further influence. Anderson referred to a letter from Fesch to Napoleon in August 1807 explaining the cost of the museum he was building in Corsica to house the collection. One of his justifications for the building was that ‘in this house our missionaries who are leaving for Asia will be instructed about art. These men will dominate faraway places, by virtue of their talents, knowledge of art, and will gain unappreciable advantages.’ Goold learned that lesson well, whether through Fesch or just his Roman education, and his collection of art and books was part of a broader strategy to educate, to bring European culture to his missionary province. Indeed as Anderson observed, his paintings reflect a taste for the late Baroque, a preference that helps explain the extravagant purchase of a near complete Piranesi edition.
Goold’s library, his paintings, his patronage of Wardell and the huge cathedral he built reflect a concerted effort by an educated man to share his knowledge and use it to shape his new society. His legacy was honoured by his successor. Goold left his books to form a diocesan library and Archbishop Carr added to the collection. Most of Goold’s paintings remained in the cathedral or the palace, with some bequeathed to parishes. In the face of economic depression Carr heroically completed the cathedral (minus its spires) and saw it consecrated in 1896. It was the largest neo-Gothic cathedral to be completed in the nineteenth century and its only competitor for this prize is the slightly smaller St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Archbishop Mannix moved from the palace next to the cathedral to the mansion Raheen in suburban Kew. His interest was in a library for the laity and he supported the Central Catholic Library under the care of the Jesuit William Hackett. Goold’s collection slowly lost its brilliance under the dust that layered the neglected books and paintings, until the wrecking ball destroyed their home and the remainder found refuge in an underfunded Diocesan Historical Commission.
For the Art Exhibition of 1869 Redmond Barry lent only a few items. Never rich enough to collect in his own right, his focus was the growing collection of the Public Library, Museum and National Gallery of Victoria. Indeed, following the 1869 exhibition the trustees built Macarthur Hall, the first purpose-built public gallery in Australia, and filled it with paintings. Barry is remembered for his part in creating our cultural patrimony, but Goold has almost been forgotten. Both have been viewed through the narrowing lens of the stage Irish: Barry in a kind of Punch and Judy show as the Anglo-Irish oppressor of the Catholic Ned Kelly, and Goold in the dismissive judgement of his biographer. As Goold slowly re-emerges through scholarship, perhaps this Irish bishop can be afforded some honour for helping to create our European sensibility.