Thomas Gotch

British, b.1854, d.1931


  • 1884-1885
  • Oil on canvas
  • Presented by the Canterbury Society of Arts, 1932
  • 1210 x 1505 x 105mm
  • 70/59

Brought to light, November 2009- 22 February 2011

Although Thomas Gotch has titled this painting 'Consent', it is left to the viewer to work out exactly what is going on between this comfortably off father and his wistful (or thoughtful) daughter. His questioning look, and the fact that he is holding a document and feather quill ready to sign his name, makes it likely that the consent is for the young woman’s hand in marriage.

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • This Victorian genre painting is a typical work by Gotch. Painting what was called 'imaginative symbolism' by a contemporary critic, Gotch places clues in this simple domestic scene to suggest a narrative. Using these symbols and the title, the viewer is invited to interpret the story behind the consent being sought and the likely conditions and outcomes. Painted with careful realism, the two figures, their ages, relationships and the furnishings of the room are all clues to this human drama. The light flooding into the dark room, from an unseen window, highlights the dramatic moment frozen in time by the artist, and provides an important diagonal link within the overall composition.

    (Label from before 2003)

  • A small domestic drama is being played out in this painting, the title of which gives the first clue. Consent asked for and given, but the young woman’s thoughtful look and the attitude of her parent or guardian suggests that there are conditions attached. Thomas Gotch was a painter of portraits and the realistic genre imbued with symbolism so popular with the Victorians. Consent is painted with careful realism and the light, flooding into the dark room from an unseen window, highlights the dramatic moment frozen in time. Gotch was born in Northamptonshire, England. He studied at the Slade School of Art in 1879. The following year he went to study in Paris where he met fellow Slade student Caroline Yates. They married in 1881. In 1883 they travelled to Australia and on his return to England, Gotch became a founding member of the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists, formed to establish exhibiting links between artists in each country. He was their President from 1913 to 1928.

    (Opening Gallery hang, May 2003)