Born in Maidstone, where his father ran a building firm, Albert Goodwin was taught in London by the Pre-Raphaelites Arthur Hughes and Ford Maddox Brown. Elected an associate of the Old Watercolour Society in 1871, he became a full member ten years later.

Following a three-month trip to Italy in 1872 with John Ruskin who was his mentor and perhaps the greatest Victorian enthusiast for the city of Venice. Although Goodwin made other visits, he developed sketches and ideas from this early period until the end of the century, stating in the catalogue of his 1896 Fine Art Society Exhibition: "Though I date my pictures at the time of their completion, I would by no means have it inferred that the whole of this exhibition has been done in t he last year. Some of the subjects were begun as many as twenty years ago."

It is clear, however, that "Venice - A Midsummer Dawn" has its foundation in a later visit. Goodwin has shed the Ruskinian qualities visible in so many of his works and under Turnerian influence developed a brilliant rendering of space and atmosphere. He had the ability to convey a sense of atmosphere with areas of nebulous washes flecked with calligraphic touches.

His qualities were still recognized in 1933 in his obituaries, for Goodwin was one of the few Victorian painters to retain his popularity in the twentieth century. The Connoisseur wrote: "Mr. Albert Goodwin...was one of the few artists for whom some measure of Old Mastership can be reasonably predicted in their lifetimes. A landscape painter of rare delicacy and imagination, he possessed the art of capturing effects so ethereal as to make them almost impossible of attainment by ordinary means. There are not many artists who have this facility, but Goodwin was one of them."