Born on 10 December 1854 in Kettering, Northamptonshire (GRO), Gotch first studied at Heatherley’s then Antwerp. He moved on to the Slade School in 1879, where he developed a friendship with Henry Scott TUKE, and met a fellow student who became his wife, Carolyn Burland YATES. Thomas and Caroline were married in Newlyn in 1881. Their daughter Phyllis was born the following year. During 1883 the couple visited Australia without Phyllis, and on their return the family spent the summer of 1884 in Polperro. They returned to live in London later that year, taking a house and studio in Chelsea. 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 Phil Whiting 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.
Portraits, landscape and genre in oil, watercolour and pastels
works and access
Works include: A Garden; Evening; Harvest, Mounts Bay; Penzance from Newlyn; Blossom (Girl in a Cornish garden); Sharing Fish; The Lantern Parade (c1910); Mounts Bay, Autumn (1905); Allelulia (c1896); The Golden Dream; Study for 'The Birthday Party';
Access to work: Tate Britain; Falmouth Art Gallery, Penlee House, Penzance; Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro; Alfred East Gallery, Kettering; Walker, Liverpool; Rochdale
RA from 1880; Paris Salon; Berlin Exhibition 1896 (Gold medal);
Dowdeswells 1890; Nottingham 1894; Whitechapel 1902 (repr of Exh lists in Hardie 2009)
NAG Opening 1895 ff
Newlyn Society of Artists, Truro 1958
Artists of the Newlyn School 1979
Looking West Exh 1987 NAG & RCA
Artists from Cornwall Exh 1992 RWE Bristol
Royal Cornwall Museum Exhibition 26 May - 15 July 2001 (with book: Lomax)
RBA; RI; RWA; PRBC; NEAC
NSA 1895 ff (Chairman 1924-31)
misc further info
Pam Lomax and Ron Hogg, of the Newlyn Archive, Trinity Centre, Chywoone Hill, Newlyn TR18 5AR (e-mail: email@example.com) are the owners of a large archive on the Gotch family and their arts. Anyone wishing to research the subjects involved at any level, should be in touch with them and their team of volunteers.
Cornishman 7 Jul & 8 Dec 1926
Cornish Telegraph 25 Mar 1909
Bednar (3rd ed, 2009) Every Corner was a Picture
Chantrey Bequest list
Cross (1994) The Shining Sands (illus)
Dowdeswell Exhibition catalogue (See Hardie 2009 for repr)
Flanagan, B (2010) Artists along the Ouse 1880-1930 p44 (incl family)
Graves RA Dictionary 1769-1904
Hardie (1995) 100 Years in Newlyn: Diary of a Gallery
Hardie (1994) In Time and Place, Lamorna
Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists
Looking West Exhibition catalogue
Messums Exh Cat (Autumn 2010): High Tide (illus)
NAG sales records
NAG Loan (1958) Exhibition catalogue
Newton et al (2005) Painting at the Edge;
Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership
RWE (1992) Artists from Cornwall, 'Artist Profiles: Historical', pp 33-7
The Studio (1898) Vol XIII No 60 March (pp 72-82): Baldry ‘The Work of T C Gotch’
Tovey (2009) St Ives: Social History
Tovey, David (2021) Polperro - Cornwall's Forgotten Art Centre - Volume One - Pre-1920, Wilson Books
Wallace (2002) Under the Open Sky;
Who’s Who in Art
Wood (1995) Victorian Painters Vol II (b&w plate: The Child Enthroned)
Personal Bibliography (includes information on Caroline and Phyllis)
Dixon, Marion Hepworth (1904-05) ‘A Painter of Womanhood’ The Lady’s Realm London:Arrow books reprint in 1972 of the magazines 6 issues of November 1904 to April 1905, pp59-65 (8 ills in b&w)
Gotch (2000) Thomas Cooper Gotch, The Artist’s Life and Works, 1854-1931 (privately published)
Lomax (2001) A Winter in Florence 1891-1892; (2002) A Long Engagement 1878-1881; (2004) The Golden Dream, A Biography of Thomas Cooper Gotch (with large bibliography and numerous illustrations); RIC Exhibition catalogue (2001) Thomas Cooper Gotch: The Last of the Pre-Raphaelites;
[The bibliography above is reprinted from Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn & West Cornwall pp197-8 where there is also a col pl of Blossom (A Girl in the Garden)]