Thomas Cooper Gotch
or T.C. Gotch (1854–1931) was an English Pre-Raphaelite
painter and book illustrator, and brother of John Alfred Gotch, the architect.
Gotch studied art in London and Antwerp before he married
and studied in Paris with his wife, Caroline, a fellow
artist. Returning to Britain, they settled into the Newlyn
art colony in Cornwall. He first made paintings of natural,
pastoral settings before immersing himself in the romantic,
Pre-Raphaelite romantic style for which he is best known.
His daughter was often a model for the colourful depictions
of young girls.
His works have been exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal
College of Art and the Paris Salon.
Thomas Gotch was born 10 December 1854 in the Mission House
in Kettering, Northamptonshire. He was the fourth son born
to Mary Ann Gale Gotch and Thomas Henry Gotch (born 1805),
who was a shoe maker. He had an
elder brother, John Alfred Gotch, who was a successful
architect and author.
In 1881 he married fellow art student Caroline Burland
Yates (1854-1945) at Newlyn's St Peter’s Church. His
daughter, Phyllis Marian Gotch was sometimes a model for her
father. After completing his studies, Gotch
travelled to Australia in 1883. Gotch and his wife
settled in Newlyn, Cornwall in 1887. The couple and their
daughter were key participants in the Newlyn art colony.
In addition to his time spent in France and Belgium while
studying art, Gotch also travelled to Austria, Australia,
South Africa, Italy and Denmark.
Thomas Cooper Gotch died in 1 May 1931 of a heart attack
while in London for an exhibition, and he was buried in
Sancreed churchyard in Cornwall.
With his parents' support, in 1876 and 1877 he first studied
at Heatherley's art school in London and then at Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp in 1877
and 1878. Then in 1879 Gotch attended Slade School of Fine
Art with Alphonse Legros in London. Gotch met his friend
Henry Scott Tuke and his future wife Caroline Yates at
Slade. After their marriage, Thomas and Caroline studied in
Paris at Académie Julian and Académie Laurens in the early
1880s. It was in Paris that he adopted the plein-air
approach of painting outdoors.
In Newlyn he founded the Newlyn Industrial Classes, where
the local youth could learn the arts & crafts. He also
helped to set up the Newlyn Art Gallery, and served on its
committee all his life. Among his friends in Newlyn was
fellow artist Stanhope Forbes and Albert Chevallier
In Newlyn, like other art colony artists, he used the
plein-air approach for making paintings outdoors. He was
also inspired by James McNeill Whistler's techniques for
creating compositions and paintings.
His style changed following an 1891-1892 a visit to Paris
and Florence; His works were transformed from the Newlyn
"rural realistic" style to a Pre-Raphaelite style that
embraced more vibrant, exuberant colours and "returned to
allegorical genre painting". His first such painting was My
Crown and Sceptre made in 1892, Commenting upon his
new style, Tate said:
His new combination of
symbolic female figures, decorative Italian textiles and the
static order of early Renaissance art finally brought him
On the provisional committee for the 1895 opening of the
Newlyn Art Gallery, Gotch exhibited The Reading Hour and A
Golden Dream at the inaugural exhibition.
Chris Leuchars for Project Kettering has said of Gotch's
Although Thomas Gotch is not widely recognised in
international art histories, his position and friendships in
Newlyn, and the mastery of his artwork, provide him some
level of recognition in British painting history and his
works make valuable contributions to collections around the
world. He has work in key collections in Australia, New
Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Thomas Gotch was a recognised success during his lifetime
and enjoyed considerable public acclaim. He was a regular
exhibitor at London's Royal Academy and contributed to
numerous other national and international exhibitions. His
works are still regularly exhibited and are often the
subject of academic studies.
Over his artistic career Gotch was also a model for other
artists. For instance, he modelled for illustrations of King
Arthur's Wood for Elizabeth Forbes.
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