Get Your Gotch

Andréa Fernandes

Earlier this month marked the 78th anniversary of the death of Thomas Cooper Gotch (1853-1931). The once-prominent English artist is little-known today, despite the presence of his paintings in major collections such as the Tate. Shown above is his painting, "The Mother Enthroned."

1. Thomas "Tom" Gotch's main model was Phyllis, his only child. Phyllis reportedly possessed "extreme beauty and intelligence," which caused the Gotch home to be "a place of pilgrimage to the youth of the neighborhood." Phyllis and her friends, in addition to acting as muses for Gotch, also inspired the stories of H.D. Lowry. Phyllis grew up to be a writer and teacher.

2. Most articles about Gotch mention that he was born into a family in the shoe business. Gotch's father—who had gone bankrupt when Gotch was 3 and then rebuilt the family's finances—brought Gotch into the "boot and shoe trade" after the younger Gotch completed his schooling. Tom Gotch spent three years working in the family business before attending art school.

3. While living in the Newlyn artists' colony, Gotch founded the Newlyn Industrial Classes, which taught arts and crafts to the youth, and helped establish the Newlyn Art Gallery. Gotch served on the Newlyn Art Gallery's committee for the rest of his life. Gotch was also a founding member of the New English Art Club and the Anglo Australian Society of Artists, which became the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists, for which he served as president for 15 years.

4. Gotch's brother was John Alfred Gotch, a noted architect. He built so many buildings in the Gotches' hometown of Kettering that Kettering is now referred to as "the town that Gotch built." The architect and author of 9 books received an honorary M.A. from the University of Oxford in 1924 and was appointed the first Charter Mayor of Kettering 14 years later, in 1938.

5. On May 1, 1931, Gotch died in London, where he was staying to see his painting, "The Footstep," hung at the Royal Academy.

A larger version of "The Mother Enthroned" is available here. Fans should check out Pamela Lomax's biography of Gotch; the two Gotch paintings in the Tate; and the collections of Gotch's work at ARC and ArtMagick. "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists.