Gotch, Thomas Cooper RBA RI RP (1854-1931)

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Gotch has strong connections with Falmouth and is central to any study of Cornish art. He was born in Kettering on 10 December 1854, the son of Thomas Henry Gotch and Mary Ann (nee Gale). The Gotch family ran a bank which collapsed in 1857 leaving his father bankrupt. Gotch studied at Kettering Grammar Schools and at the age of eighteen was forced to join the family boot and shoe business. He was finally allowed to study art in 1877, starting at Heatherly's in London, working briefly at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Antwerp, and then studying under Alphonse Legros at Slade School, London, from 1878 to 1880. Whilst at Slade he had a large group of friends, including Henry Scott Tuke; the pair spent the summer of 1879 together in Falmouth, which is when Gotch first visited Newlyn. After leaving the Slade the group moved to Paris and studied at the atelier of J. P. Laurens. It was here they were greatly influenced by the artist Bastien-Lepage (1848-1884), who encouraged the practice of painting 'en plein air'. Amongst their friends was the artist Caroline Yates, whom Gotch married in 1881 and the pair moved to Brolles, France, where their daughter Phylis was born in 1882.

In 1883 the Gotch family joined their friends in Newlyn and were amongst the founder members of the revolutionary Newlyn School. Later that year they travelled to Australia and then lived in London from 1884- 1887 before finally settling in Newlyn where they built their family home at 'Wheal Betsy' in 1910. Gotch and Henry Scott Tuke were founder members of the New English Art Club and interestingly both made youth the main subject of their mature paintings. They become lifelong friends and regularly visited each other's homes and exhibited paintings at the same venues. Gotch was an exhibitor at the first Falmouth Art Gallery which was founded by Tuke and Ayerst Ingram and Tuke exhibited in Gotch's home town of Kettering. Gotch died in Newlyn on 1 May 1931.