Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Sir Claude Hotchin (1898–1977)

by Janda Gooding

This article was published:

Sir Claude Hotchin (1898-1977), businessman and art benefactor, was born on 7 March 1898 at Quorn, South Australia, son of Robert John Hotchin, butcher, and his wife Bertha Mary, née Brown, a tailoress. In 1905 the family moved to Broken Hill, New South Wales. When his father died in 1909, Claude was granted special permission to leave the local school and start work. Moving to Adelaide at the age of 15, he obtained a job in Clarkson Ltd's hardware store. On 4 April 1925 at the Pirie Street Methodist Church he married Doris May Clarkson, the daughter of his employer. Next day the couple moved to Perth to help manage a branch of the firm. After a fire gutted the store in 1932, Hotchin and the co-manager bought the goodwill and name of Clarksons (W.A.) Ltd. In 1940 he became sole manager of the business. The postwar building boom contributed to the success of the company: in 1950 he was able to sell his interests and retire from working life.

Hotchin was important as an art collector and benefactor of public galleries in Western Australia. Believing that 'good pictures are things of beauty and character, naturally they have an influence for good when youth is surrounded by them', he had begun to buy paintings in 1937. Ten years later he opened the Claude Hotchin Art Gallery in Perth and ran it until 1951. In 1948 he inaugurated a competition for Western Australian artists; the prize bore his name and was awarded annually until 1973. Between 1948 and 1977 Hotchin donated an estimated two thousand original paintings to galleries, hospitals and shire councils throughout the State in an effort to 'stimulate art appreciation'. His predilection was for Australian pastoral landscapes. Many of the smaller regional collections have remained unchanged from the time of the first gifts and their essentially conservative holdings continue to exert subtle influence on attitudes to art in the local communities. Royal Perth Hospital and the University of Western Australia were major recipients, and, in 1972, the Art Gallery of Western Australia received an initial bequest of $10,000 with which it established the Sir Claude Hotchin Art Foundation.

An active supporter of the Methodist Church, Hotchin belonged to the Perth Rotary Club (from 1930) and was a founding member (1938) of the Crippled Children's Society of Western Australia. He was a member (1947-64) of the board of trustees of the Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia and chairman (1960-64) of the board of the Art Gallery. In addition, he served on the senate of the university (1951-69) and on the university's McGillivray art bequest committee (1961-73). In 1967 he was knighted. The university awarded him an honorary LL.D. in 1974.

Sir Claude was a tall, impressive and charming man, with a flair for public speaking. He lived at Chartwell, Mundaring, and his recreations included poetry, golf, swimming, motoring and gardening. Survived by his wife and daughter, he died on 3 June 1977 at Albany and was buried with Anglican rites in Allambie Park cemetery. (Sir) Ivor Hele's portrait of Hotchin is held by the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • National Exhibitions Touring Structure (Perth), Sir Claude Hotchin Art Bequests (Perth, 1992)
  • West Australian, 4 June 1977
  • J. Gooding, One Man's Vision: A Study of Western Australian Art Collector, Claude Hotchin 1898-1977 (M.Phil. thesis, University of Western Australia, 1988), and for bibliography
  • Hotchin papers (State Records Office of Western Australia).

Citation details

Janda Gooding, 'Hotchin, Sir Claude (1898–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


7 March, 1898
Quorn, South Australia, Australia


3 June, 1977 (aged 79)
Albany, Western Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.