This study by the Victorian artist Thomas Cooper Gotch celebrates the poppy in all of its glory. Gotch’s painting captures the subtle petal variations of this strong and bold flower with loose and expressive brush strokes. This work demonstrates the artist’s close attention to overall accuracy in the consideration of his figurative works.
This work is possibly a preliminary study for Gotch’s well-know portrait, ‘Death the Bride’, a work completed in 1884/5. If so, this study would have been extremely instrumental in the creation of ‘Death the Bride’.
The reverse of the work is inscribed by Gotch ‘The Malt House, Newlyn, Penzance’. This was a common inscription by the artist as he was an integral part of the Newlyn community of plein-air painters at this time. In 1883 Gotch was one of the founding members of the revolutionary Newlyn School.
Thomas Cooper Gotch (1854-1931) was an original member of the Newlyn colony of artists, the group that made such an impact on the late Victorian art world in England. He was a close and life-long friend of Henry Scott Tuke and Stanhope Forbes. From the mid 1880s, he was a leading figure amongst the young artists who attempted to resist the hegemony of London’s Royal Academy of Art, being a founder member and secretary of the New English Art Club.
After a trip to Florence in 1891, where he saw the paintings of Quattrocento artists such as Fra Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli, Gotch’s style changed quite dramatically. He abandoned the realism and monochromatic blues and greys of the Newlyn School for highly decorative allegorical subjects, vibrant colours and an attention to detail akin to that of the Pre-Raphaelites.