Thomas Cooper GOTCH

1854—1931

Born on 10 December 1854 in Kettering, Northamptonshire (GRO), Gotch first studied at Heatherley’s then Antwerp, moving on to the Slade School in 1879 where he developed a friendship with Henry Scott TUKE. During 1883 he visited Australia and returned to live in London. He met Stanhope FORBES in 1885, and settled in Newlyn with his wife and daughter in 1887. Gotch painted in oil, water-colour and pastel, and etched portraits, landscape and genre.

As early as 1888 he was exhibiting An Artist of the Newlyn School in the autumn show of the Manchester City Art Gallery, demonstrating the ambitious idea of Newlyn recognisable as a colony and ‘school of artists’ in which he was always prominent. His experiences during a holiday in France in 1891 initiated a change in his style of painting. At the NAG 1895 Opening Exhibition he showed A Golden Dream and The Reading Hour, the latter sold.

He was on the provisional committee of artists when NAG opened, and was closely involved in the Newlyn Industrial Class Project.  O’Donnell (Hardie 1995 p 26-7) remarks in her essay on the four copper plaques that represent earth, air, fire and water: ‘It is interesting that both John Drew MacKENZIE and Thomas Gotch acted as designers for the plaques, for Mackenzie as the designer for the copper workshops was quite capable of working on such a commission on his own. However, he must have felt the need for some more imaginative and artistic input into their conception, and the contribution made by Gotch working closely with him must have had a considerable impact on the final outcome of the design. The subject chosen for the plaques was…a relatively abstract and biblical subject that must have appealed to both artists. They chose to treat the subject in both a figurative and symbolic manner with a combined approach that reflects very clearly their two different styles of work at this time…’

Throughout his working life, he and Caroline Burland GOTCH and their daughter Phyllis Maureen GOTCH, despite travelling far and wide, were an integral part of the Newlyn community of artists, as has been well documented by Lomax in her recent researches. In July 1926, A Garden; Evening and Harvest - Mount's Bay were his titles, demonstrating his continued close interest in the area.

The highly esteemed Gotch died on 1 May, 1931, age 76, in London of heart failure, while there for an exhibition. Forbes, who was in London at the same time, was able to let Caroline know that Tom had gone in to hospital, and she came from Cornwall to his bedside in time to be with him when he died. His body was brought back to Cornwall, and he was buried in Sancreed Churchyard.

His portrait of Mrs Sherwood Hunter (oil on canvas, Private Collection), wife of a Newlyn fellow painter, was included in the 2005 Faces of Cornwall Exhibition at Penlee House, Penzance. In Cornish collections are Girl in a Cornish Garden (Penlee) and Sharing Fish (RCM, Truro), and in private collections are many, including The Lantern Parade (c1910) and Mount’s Bay, Autumn (1905).

His Allelulia (c1896), a major demonstration of his Pre-Raphaelite style, was purchased for the nation by the CHANTRY BEQUEST, and hangs at the Tate Gallery. His painting The Golden Dream was used in 1995 as the theme for the celebratory activities surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Newlyn Art Gallery (NAG), and the Birthday Dinner held at the Queen's Hotel, where the original NAG Opening Banquet had been held in 1895.