'Genoese Shipping' signed and dated 'H S Tuke 1912' (lower left) and inscribed (on label on the reverse) watercolour 27 x 38cm (10 5/8 x 14 15/16in).
EXHIBITED: London, Royal Watercolour Society, Summer Exhibition, 1912, no.93.
This sun-filled impressionist painting is Henry Scott Tuke at his best as a watercolourist. Painted in the Mediterranean port of Genoa, a place Tuke knew really well from his frequent visits, he has captured the multicoloured bows and the brightness of the sun in this dazzling watercolour. Tuke spent a month in Italy in April - May 1912. When he got there he wrote to his sister Maria complaining that it had changed beyond recognition. "When I went out first I thought the place was entirely ruined. Lots of the old houses I used to paint are pulled down, and dreadful cement buildings put up in their place. Also huge new dock warehouses and workshops blotting out the picturesque things behind them." (Letter to Maria April 27, 1912, from Henry Scott Tuke : A Memoir by Maria Tuke Sainsbury p.148.) But then once he found a boatman to take him out on the water and get amongst the various sailing craft he was back enjoying himself. " We have been out regularly twice a day, and got a good deal done." (ibid) He was really looking for the many coloured boats which he used to see but were by then 'scarce'. Tuke also found painting on board a small boat in the harbour more difficult because of the "constant jump" from the little steamers which were taking tourists about the harbour. Despite all these difficulties, Tuke seems to have overcome them in this work and has used intense blue in the shadows on the boats and the rigging to suggest the intensity of the sun and the reflected light from the azure blue sea and sky. He has also painted the water of the harbour in a very lively but subtle way conveying the silvery metallic quality of the light which is so bright he suggests the glare of its brilliance. This watercolour is listed in Tuke's register of paintings R706. Tuke was working with watercolour in a very expressive way at this time. His other study of Genoa, 1912 (Falmouth Art Gallery) showing the buildings in more detail in the harbour is in a Turneresque style. His many studies of Genoa made between 1905 and 1913 culminated in a large oil painting of the harbour which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1913 and is now in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery's collection.
Reference: Henry Scott Tuke: A Memoir, Maria Tuke Sainsbury, Secker, 1933
We are grateful to Catherine Wallace for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.