Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mr. Gotch, Mr. Thayer, and Mr. Bourque

They may sound like a trio of barristers come to help secure your fortunes against greedy relatives as you lay dying in the opulent bed chamber of your manner home, but they are something far more important according to my daughter; well, at least two of them are.  It is her dearest hope that the last will join the ranks of Mr. Gotch and Mr. Thayer in making his daughter the obvious model for some striking, timeless paintings.
While she was touched by the daughter-as-subject bug long ago when my husband used our other daughter as a model for his sketched study of Persephone (for a painting that was never to be), her interest was recently renewed when she came upon this painting in her book, Sound the Deep Waters: Women’s Romantic Poetry in the Victorian Age.

  The Child Enthroned, Thomas Cooper Gotch, 1894

Clearly, she could not be certain from the image alone that the model used here was Gotch’s daughter. But something about the image rang familiar with her and when she showed it to me, I identified that familiarity quickly.  An enthroned child is a particularly memorable image for a student; as part of the History At Our House History through Art component, my daughter is well versed in the portrait of Emperor Honorius.
The Byzantine Emperor Honorius, Jean-Paul Laurens, 1880
After we discussed the similarities and differences between the paintings, we looked up the artist of the first, Thomas Cooper Gotch (1854-1931). It was then we discovered his favorite model, his daughter, Phyllis Marian Gotch (seen here again in his delightful Allelulia).
Allelulia, Thomas Cooper Gotch, 1896
Not to be outdone in this department, Abbott Thayer*(1849-1921), whose work we found in the same gallery, showcased his three children, but mostly his oldest daughter, Mary.  

 A Virgin, Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1893
And here.
My Children, Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1897
Finally, here we see her in the ubiquitous image, Angel.

Angel, Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1887 
So now, my daughter has begun to lobby to be immortalized in paint as nothing less than a princess or an angel. Although, I’m sure a Greek goddess would suffice – provided she were the right one.

*As an interesting aside, check out Thayer’s contribution to camouflage.

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