Thomas Cooper Gotch Gallery
In Newlyn he worked first at painting local scenes in the then-fashionable realist manner. But even these often had a romantic edge, such as The Wizard or an obvious love of surface colour.
In 1891 a visit to Florence, Italy, opened his eyes to the work of the romantic European symbolists. He took the brave step of changing his style, to make romantic decorative paintings, when the prevailing fashion was against him. His first work in this new style was My Crown and Sceptre (1892), which was the progenitor to his most well-known work The Child Enthroned (1894). The latter, on original exhibition, was hailed by The Times newspaper as the star of that year's Royal Academy show. Until that time, his new style of work had drawn much critical scorn.
He painted religious Christian scenes, history painting, portraits, and a few landscapes. His best-known paintings, which form the bulk of his work, usually portray girl-children in ornate classical or medievalist dress. The appearance of the girls in his paintings is often noted as being very modern. Gotch was a close and lifelong friend of Henry Scott Tuke, whose work featured a parallel focus on the boy-child. Gotch's lifelong adoration of the beautiful girl-child was shared by other Victorian giants such as John Ruskin and Lewis Carroll.
His emotionally-charged work was immensely popular and critically acclaimed for most of his life, although interest in neo-romanticism waned after the First World War and he turned to watercolours of flowers. He also illustrated books, such as Round About Wiltshire, The Land of Pardons (an early study of Breton folklore & Celtic Christianity), and contributed illustrations to school readers such as Highroads of Literature.
A retrospective show was held in Newcastle in 1910, and a memorial exhibition in Kettering in 1931.