“One of the Family” by F.G. Cotman

Summer 1978, driving hack in Vancouver between terms at Langara. I opened a throwaway restaurant guide called unoriginally, “Restaurant Guide”. Stuck above the listings for pizza and perogies was a low-quality b&w repro of a painting of a family with a horse at dinner. No identification, no clue where the image came from (they didn’t know at Restaurant Guide, either). Thus began my obsession with tracking this thing down.

Years later, after poring over many art books in public libraries I found that the painting is “One of the Family” painted by Frederick George Cotman, a British painter. I couldn’t find any decent reproductions in books. I set this quest aside for a few decades.

“Cotman painted this romantic scene of rustic domestic life at the Black Boy Inn at Hurley on Thames. It shows a farmer (posed by the inn keeper) returning home for his meal, while his horse leans through the doorway to be fed by the farmer’s wife.”

Fast forward to today. I now know the painting is on display at the Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool and is much larger than I expected [102.6 x 170.2cm/40 x 67 in]. The online images I’ve found are quite revealing of a sensitivity and delicacy of execution I couldn’t see in the RG halftone. When I eventually get to Liverpool (it’s on my bucket list) I won’t be seeking out the Beatles origins but rather Cotman’s work that has fascinated me for so long.

[Cotman’s] picture, “One of the Family,” is a popular example of his realistic manner and shows accomplishment in grouping and lighting. The human interest, the carefully observed poses and character, the contrast of youth and age, the details of the table, shimmering in light from the door and win­dow, the well-drawn horse and dog, are evidence of a quite remarkable skill.

(The World’s Greatest Paintings, 1934)

“Go anywhere in England where there are natural, wholesome, contented and really nice English people; and what do you always find? That the stables are the real center of the household.”

—Bernard Shaw, “Heartbreak House,” Act Three.

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5 thoughts on ““One of the Family” by F.G. Cotman

  1. Hi. This is one of my favourite paintings founed in Walker Art Galery in Liverpool. I have founed my self being taken in and becoming a part of it. It is balanced painting reflecting happiness peacefulness and love node.js often no present within the families. It is very realisticaly painted and so masive…. I wish I could paint like Frederic Cotman.
    Hope you have managed to see it for your self.
    All the best.

  2. Pamela Wickens says:

    I have had the picture for many years,with the name of the painter inscribed on the frame, don’t know if it’s relevant to the original.
    It would be interesting to find out .

    Regards
    Pamela

    • Slavka says:

      Hi Pamela.
      I am art student at Glyndwr University in Wrexham and One of the family is my favourite paintings n the whole world.
      It captures a moment many of us never experienced. Love and gathering together with the family….the most important thing. I have written about this painting because in todays work we are so liberal, even art now days is anything but art…..
      This painting is exhibited in Liverpool Walkers Art Gallery.
      It is truelly magnificent peace.
      I do hope you manage to fund out whether your painting somehow relates to the original. I do not know whatvsize is the one you own. However, I would suggest you compare the details with the original one and perhaps have it checked whether you have a copy of it or if it is an originaly painted picture (maybe a copy of F.Cotman’s painting).
      Good luck.
      Slavie

  3. Janice Rushforth-Lee says:

    One of my favourites too. First found it in a book called ‘the Worlds Greatest Paintings’ which my father had.

  4. Mrs Christine Basford says:

    We found this picture in an Antique shop in Northumberland in the 80,s It is beautifully framed and signed F.G.Cotman 1980 in the bottom right hand corner. Size approx 23 ins X18 ins.
    Is this any value please.

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