A bather signed 'H.S.TUKE' (lower left) oil on panel 29 x 20cm (11 7/16 x 7 7/8in).
This lively impressionist oil was painted en plein air on his local beach at Swanpool in Falmouth. It is painted with many short, broad brushstrokes which indicates it was done quickly, probably in one sitting. The model is Charlie Mitchell (18851957), who was Tuke's boatman and regularly rowed the artist (plus his easel and paints) in the white boat shown in this painting, to and fro from Tuke's house to the various beaches around Falmouth.
Tuke became very accomplished at painting the nude outdoors by the sea from the late 1890s onwards and his ability to produce a painting in just one sitting was highlighted with his painting July Sun, 1913. He gave it to the Royal Academy, where it was exhibited in 1914, the year he was elected a Royal Academician.
Although the present lot does not appear to be dated, the label on the back from Brian D. Price's original collection, most of which went to the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society in Falmouth, suggests it is from c.1921. The label also suggests it could be a study for Tuke's Royal Academy painting of that year Facing South (R950). Tuke lists a study in his register of paintings R1118 which Brian D. Price identified as Facing South (Sketch) - Charlie Mitchell, Standing back view. It was one of several sketches and studies sold to C.S.Parkes of the East India Company who lived in St. Austell in 1925. Whether this painting is that study is not entirely clear.
Charlie Mitchell standing with his back to the viewer on the beach near rocks, featured in many paintings by Tuke in the 1920s including Facing South, 1921, Lovers of the Sun 1923 and Green Waterways 1925, and the present sketch could have been used for any of them.
We are grateful to Catherine Wallace for her assistance in cataloguing the present lot.