The Italian white barque 'Aldo' signed and dated 'H.S.TUKE.1901' (lower left) oil on canvas 44 x 65cm (17 5/16 x 25 9/16in).
PROVENANCE: Reputedly a gift from the artist to S.J. Lamorna Birch acquired by the family of the present owner in 1983 Thence by descent
ILLUSTRATED: Wainwright & Dinn, Henry Scott Tuke 1858-1929, Under Canvas, London, 1989, cat no.72, illus. p.94 as The White Ship
This sunny, bright impressionist painting of a white barque is a good example of Tuke's confidence with oil, and with painting fully rigged ships whilst moored in Falmouth harbour. Full of light, this painting was created using quick but accurate brushwork to create a sense of movement. The azure blue sky is reflected in the sea which Tuke has highlighted with mauves and pinks. The placement of the barque within the picture is also visually dynamic, as it is turned away slightly at an angle from the picture plane and the rowing boat, painted at right angles to the barque, leads the eye into the picture.
Painted aboard the 'Piebox', one of his many boats which doubled up as a floating studio, Tuke describes painting this Italian barque -which had just arrived for orders in Falmouth on 23 June 1901- in his diary: 'Out in the piebox and painted a good white Italian barque, Aldo Guinto di Genoa.' (24 June 1901). Tuke has very faintly painted the name of the boat on the stern. He continues in his diary for the 25th June: 'Again to the Italian. The captain came aboard and criticized.'
The captain, Ferretto, was one of the Italian owners of this barque, which had been built in Sestri in 1890 and was registered at Genoa. His coming aboard to see Tuke's painting could have meant he wanted to see for himself what the artist had achieved, and maybe to check whether he had depicted her rigging accurately, an aspect of painting sailing ships that Tuke took pride in. Tuke had visited Italy -including Genoa- several times and could speak Italian. 'Aldo' was on a voyage from Buenos Aires with a cargo of wheat, under orders to take it to Antwerp. She was a wooden barque of 1047 gross tons, 982 net, and was 186 feet 6 inches long, 35 feet 4 inches wide and 23 feet 1 inch deep.
We are grateful to Catherine Wallace, author of Catching the Light. The Art and Life of Henry Scott Tuke, and Ron Hawkins from the Library at the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall, for their assistance in cataloguing this lot.