This absorbing portrait by Thomas Cooper Gotch was the result of a wager.

Perhaps poking fun at the prevalence of red-headed women in Pre-Raphaelite art, an acquaintance bet Gotch that he could not paint a red-haired subject with red cheeks in red clothes. This painting of Ruby Bone, a local girl who would have been little over two years old when she sat for the portrait, was the artist’s response. The warm oranges and reds of the sitter’s hair and clothes are balanced against the dull green-grey of the background and off-white of her dress and buttons. Born in Northamptonshire, Gotch studied at the Heatherley School of Fine Art and the Slade, becoming a close friend of the painter Henry Scott Tuke. Their fellow Slade student Caroline Burland Yates, whom Gotch married in 1881, encouraged the men to visit Newlyn and they became resident there in 1887. Gotch adopted the local ‘rural realist’ style but altered his own technique to incorporate a ‘joyous sense of colour’ following a visit to Florence in 1891. The later works for which he is best known are marked by the influence of medievalism, which had been popularised by his Pre-Raphaelite contemporaries. Penlee House is home to an internationally renowned collection of works by late Victorian and early 20th-century artists, with particularly strong holdings of works from the Newlyn School. This portrait of a local figure by a leading Newlyn artist is a significant addition to the gallery’s collection.


ChristieÂ’s, 2012 where bought by current vendor. An Art Loss Register search has been carried out.

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