Born in St. John's Wood, London, on 17 Sept. 1822, was son of Edward Goodall [q. v.], the line engraver, by his wife Alice Le Petit, granddaughter of a Frenchman who was a printer of coloured engravings. Goodall's two brothers, Edward Goodall and Walter Goodall [q. v.], also made a reputation as artists.
Frederick, who as a child was fascinated by Turner's drawings, was educated at the Wellington Road Academy, a private school which Charles Dickens had attended. From thirteen to twenty-one he was a pupil of his father, who taught him oil painting; he also joined at sixteen a life class in St. Martin's Lane, where Etty had received instruction. In 1838 he went on a sketching tour through Normandy, and soon after extended his travels to Brittany and Ireland.
As early as 1836 Goodall exhibited water-colour paintings of Willesden Church and Lambeth Palace at the Society of Arts; the second picture was awarded the Isis medal of the society. At the same place he exhibited in 1838 an oil paintings 'Finding the Dead Body of a Miner in the Thames Tunnel,' which was awarded the large silver medal of the society. In 1839, when only seventeen, he showed at the Royal Academy his 'French Soldiers in a Cabaret.' Thenceforth he was a regular exhibitor at the Academy until 1902, only omitting the three years 1858, 1871, and 1874. Two of his eariy works, 'The Tired Soldier' (1842) and 'The Village Holiday' (1847), are now in the Vernon collection at the Tate Gallery and show the influence of Wilkie, a good copy of whose 'Penny Wedding' belonged to Goodall's father. A picture, 'Raising the Maypole,' at the Academy in 1851, proved very popular, and an engraving widely extended its vogue. In 1852 Goodall was elected A.R.A. His 'Cranmer at the Traitor's Gate' (1856) was engraved in line by his father. His promise attracted the notice of Samuel Rogers and Sir Robert Peel, and he early enjoyed the patronage of picture buyers. In 1857 Goodall visited Venice and Chioggia.
The winter of 1858 and the spring of 1859 were spent in Egypt, which Goodall revisited in 1870. From the date of his first Egyptian sojourn to the end of his career Goodall largely devoted himself to Eastern subjects, and thus vastly extended his popularity. The first of his Eastern paintings was 'Early Morning in the Wilderness of Shur' (Royal Academy in 1860). There followed 'The First Born' (1861) and 'The Return of a Pilgrim from Mecca' (1862).
Elected R.A. in 1863, Goodall exhibited in 1864, as his diploma work, 'The Nubian Slave,' Among paintings of like theme which followed were: 'The Rising of the Nile' (1865), 'Hagar and Ishmael' (1866), 'Rebekah at the Well' (1867), 'Jochebed' (1870), 'Head of the House at Prayer' (1872), 'Subsiding of the Nile' (1873), 'Rachel and her Flock' (1875), 'The Return from Mecca' (1881), 'The Flight into Egypt' (1884), 'Gordon's Last Messenger' (1885), and 'By the Sea of Galilee' (1888), now at the People's Palace, Mile End. In 1889 he painted English landscapes such as 'A Distant View of Harrow on the Hill' (1889) and 'Beachy Head' (1896). Meanwhile he pursued his Eastern themes in 'Sheep-Shearing in Egypt' (1892) and 'Laban's Pasture' (1895). In 1897 'The Ploughman and the Shepherdess' was acquired for the Tate Gallery by public subscription. Goodall from time to time in later life painted portraits. Among his Betters were Sir Moses Montcfiore (1890), William Beatty-Kingston, his wife (1890), his daughter, Rica (1894), and (Sir) Anderson Critchett (1898). Goodall's portrait by himself was exliibited at the Royal Academy in 1881.
In 1876 Goodall purchased the estate of Grims Dyke, Harrow, and on it his friend Norman Shaw built an imposing residence. But after some twelve years Goodall returned to London, and his Harrow house passed in 1890 to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert [q. v. Suppl. II]. At the end of his life he published a volume of gossiping 'Reminiscences' (1902). He died on 29 July 1904 at 62 Avenue Road, St. John's Wood, where he had resided since his removal from Harrow, and was buried in Highgate cemetery.
He married in 1872, Alice, daughter of John Tarry, a lawyer, and by her had a large family, including Frederick Trevelyan Goodall [q. v.] and Howard Goodall [q. v.], both artists, who predeceased him. Goodall fully satisfied the public taste, which liked a story told in paint clearly, correct in detail, and with a certain simple kind of sentiment. His painting throughout his career showed much technical ability but very little inspiration.
[Goodall's Reminiscences, 1902, with list of pictures and drawings; Graves's Royal Acad. Exhibitors, 1905-6; The Times, 31 July 1904.]
On 24 October 1846 Goodall married the artist Anne Thomson (c.1823–1869), daughter of the engraver James Thomson, and three years later the couple set up home at 4 Camden Square, London. They had five children; two sons, Frederick Trevelyan Goodall (bap. 1848, d. 1871) and Howard Goodall (bap. 1850, d. 1874), became artists, but died in their early twenties.