Henry Scott Tuke, RA, RWS (British, 1858-1929) Beach Study
Lot 171
Henry Scott Tuke, RA, RWS
(British, 1858-1929)
Beach Study
Sold for £30,000 (US$ 50,394) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Henry Scott Tuke, RA, RWS (British, 1858-1929)
Beach Study
signed 'H.S.TUKE' (in pencil lower left), inscribed on a label attached to the reverse
oil on panel
40 x 32cm (15 3/4 x 12 5/8in).


    London, Royal Academy, 1928, no. 506

    Royal Academy Illustrated, p.76

    This is one of the last paintings Tuke did before he died in March 1929, of the semi-clad male figure by the sea leaning on the rocks, bathed in Cornish sunlight. It features one of his most loyal and longstanding models in Tuke's later years, Charlie Mitchell (1885 – 1957). It shows the long lean back of the model, which had been honed by years of rowing boats around Falmouth harbour, which Tuke painted many times. The style and manner of the painting is Tuke at his most expressionistic and bold.

    The reflected light of the water and sky are painted in strong blue brush marks on the rocks in the foreground, it is echoed in paler shades of blue and white on the models back and the sea and sky beyond, with a hint of sails on the horizon, are a shimmering, sparkling mirage of heat and light.

    The work has strong echoes of an earlier painting called The Lighthouse, 1919 (R951) of Mitchell in similar pose, painted on his return from serving in the forces during the First World War. But in this work of 9 years later, Tuke has seen the model's back, the rock, sea and sky as one. The outline of the model's head is all that gives it solidity and a sense of form. It was a feature of Tuke's style of painting that prevented him from being an entirely pure impressionist painter, and yet this painting shows Tuke's confidence and mastery of painting light.

    By 1928, Tuke's work was no longer in fashion, his bathing boys paintings had become the subject of cartoons in the popular press due to the repetitive nature of his subject matter. It seems ironic that his other painting of bathing men, to be shown at the Royal Academy in 1928, the last listed in his register of paintings in oil, was suitably called The Critics (R1231), illustrated Catherine Wallace, Catching the Light: The Art and Life of Henry Scott Tuke, p.148.

    We are grateful to Catherine Wallace for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.

Saleroom notices

  • PROVENANCE: Mrs B.L. Leigh of Leeds, purchased from the Royal Academy in 1928; her sale as part of the contents of The Croft, Harrogate, Wednesday 11th July 1945, lot 248, where purchased by the mother of the vendor.
  1. Peter Rees
    Specialist - 19th Century Paintings
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8201
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
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