Thomas Cooper Gotch

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Thomas Cooper Gotch

English , painter and printmaker

Born 1854 - Died 5/1/1931

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Gotch was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire to a prosperous middle class family involved in making shoes and banking. The family were nonconformists. He attended school locally, and entered his father’s business, before taking up the study of art at Heatherley’s Art School in 1876. He then studied briefly in Antwerp, before progressing to the Slade. He married a fellow student Caroline Yates, whom he met in Paris. They had one daughter Phyllis, who was a model in some of her father’s most important pictures. The young family travelled to Australia, where they settled in Melbourne. They returned to England, settling in the artistic colony of Newlyn in 1887. Gotch and his wife lived in Newlyn for the rest of their lives. He painted in the style of the Newlyn School at this time.

In 1891/2 Gotch visited Italy, mainly basing himself in Florence. This was a pivotal experience in his life, causing a radical change in his style artistically. On his return from Italy Gotch started to paint highly-finished symbolist pictures, which involved childhood and family relationships. These paintings were influenced by the clarity and simplicity of early Italian art. Some of these paintings are amongst the greatest and most interesting in Victorian art. Gotch’s was a totally unique voice, and his pictures were highly acclaimed, and he became successful. He also painted portraits. Many public galleries bought his paintings. Gotch, surprisingly, did not become even an Associate of the Royal Academy. He was, however, involved with the Royal British Colonial Society, and was its President from 1913-1928.

Thomas Cooper Gotch died suddenly on 1st May 1931. The reputation of the artist, and the recognition of his work is long overdue for a positive re-assessment.

It would be entirely wrong not to mention that the source of much of this information comes from the catalogue of The Last Romantics, the catalogue of the exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in the late 1990s.

Thomas Cooper Gotch, Obituary In Times, May the 4th 1931.

Mr Thomas Cooper Gotch, the artist and Vice president of the Royal West of England Academy died on May 1st in his 77th year.He has a claim to be remembered as an artist who, at a time when realism was in the fashion and in the very bosom of its most active school in England, boldly struck out for himself in decorative composition. His Child Enthroned, painted in 1894, for which the model was his daughter Phyllis, made a sensation at the time of its exhibition, and indeed, a certain intensity of feeling which carried off the too-literal style in which it was painted. To some extent the great success of this picture was a hindrance to Gotch, because it lead him to repeat himself in other works conceived in the same convention such as Allelulia, purchased by the Chantry Bequest Fund in 1898 and now in the Tate Gallery; A Pageant of Children, and The Mother Enthroned.

Born in Kettering in 1854, the fourth son of the late Thomas Henry Gotch, Gotch was educated at Kettering Grammar School, and studied art at Hatherley’s, The Slade School at Antwerp, and in Paris under Jean-Paul Laurens [1838-1931]. In his earlier years he was a regular exhibitor at the Academy and the salon, where he was awarded gold medals for his work, as also at Berlin. When Gotch had his great success he was already a member of the colony at Newlyn, Cornwall which had formed itself under the leadership of Mr Stanhope Forbes RA [1857-1947].

Gotch married a Hampshire lady, Miss Caroline Yates, and the extreme beauty and intelligence in youth of their only child Phyllis made their home at Newlyn a place of pilgrimage to the youth of the neighbourhood. The child stories of the late H. D. Lowry, owed much of their inspiration to her. Gotch was for a time President of the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists. His elder brother was John Alfred Gotch, a well known architect and writer on architecture.

  • Victorian Art in Britan.
  • Personal

    student of


    president of

    • Royal British Colonial Society from 1913 to 1913

    student at

    • Kettering Grammar School
    • Slade School at Antwerp