Bernard Cecil Gotch

Bernard Cecil Gotch was born on 17th May 1876 at Chilcombe near Winchester. He attended Winchester School of Art, first as a student and then later as teacher. By 1910, he had received his first notable commission illustrating A Shepherd’s Life by W.H. Hudson, published by Methuens.

In 1914, he married Mary Fox, an accomplished violinist. They settled in Winchester where he continued painting. Gotch completed a series of watercolours in and around Winchester, characterised by his muted palette that was typical of his early works. Alongside painting, Bernard and Mary continued teaching in order to supplement their income. Following the war they lived for a year on the edge of Dartmoor where Gotch painted several churches in the area as well as the surrounding moorland.

Bernard and Mary Gotch moved to London, where Bernard had a studio near the Tate. He had one-man shows in Lincolns Inn and the Fine Art Society. It was whilst in London that Gotch was approached to illustrate a book on the Public Schools of England, a project eventually abandoned; however, some of these watercolours were exhibited at the Fine Art Society in 1927. During his time in London, Gotch was painting some of his best architectural work of buildings in London, but financial security was elusive, so Mary played the violin in hotels and theatres.

In 1925, Gotch moved to Oxford, eventually settling in Patchway, on Cumnor Hill. Working from his studio on the first floor of Patchway, he was soon busy taking commissions. His works concentrated on the interiors and exteriors of colleges and were featured in regular one-man shows both in Oxford galleries and colleges, including an exhibition every ‘eights week’ in Oriel College Lecture rooms. Throughout this period his work was regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy.

In 1952, the University of Oxford made Gotch an Honorary M.A. After he died in 1963 a memorial service took place in Oriel College. Shortly followed by his Memorial Exhibition at our associated Bonfigioli Gallery in 1964.