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Henry Scott Tuke: Two exhibitions

Royal Cornwall Museum and Falmouth Art Gallery


‘A Retrospective’ and ‘The Sunshine Paintings of Henry Scott Tuke’ were two exhibitions held simultaneously at the Royal Cornwall Museum and Falmouth Art Gallery to coincide with the 150th anniversary of this Cornish based artist who is regarded as an internationally important painter.

'A Retrospective' covered different styles and subjects, and Tuke’s development as an artist throughout his career. From his student days at the Slade to his first travels abroad studying in Florence and painting the nude outdoors in rural Italy, through his interiors from the Newlyn school days and on to his floating studio paintings in Falmouth harbour including the Tate Gallery’s ‘All Hands to the Pumps!’

The retrospective had a wide range of the portraits which Tuke painted throughout his life, from family members, such as the 1884 portrait of his sister Maria, to his close friend the art benefactor and collector Alfred De Pass (a painting that has only recently been rediscovered). The National Portrait Gallery lent their portrait of Lord Gower, while Brighton and Hove Museums lent the impressive Sargentesque portrait of Muriel Lubbock.

The retrospective also charted his paintings of the male nude figure outdoors from 1885 – 1928 with major loans from the Royal Academy and Guildhall in London and from Leeds, Blackpool and Leamington Spa galleries. Both exhibitions were deeply enriched by the additional loans from many private collectors including Sir Elton John.

Falmouth Art gallery’s exhibition focused on the more impressionist paintings of bathing boys, ships and landscapes demonstrating the influence of the Mediterranean light in such works as 'A Corfu Garden'. It also featured 'August Blue' from the Tate Gallery. Both institutions also demonstrated in their respective exhibitions the extent of Tuke’s watercolour techniques from sketches of ships in Falmouth harbour to studies of locals in the West Indies on his expedition there in 1923/24 with Frederick Mitchell Hedges, the real Indiana Jones.

With over 100 paintings, sketchbooks, and archive material, the exhibitions at Truro and Falmouth were the single largest showing of Tuke’s work in the UK to date. The Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society lent a considerable number of its watercolours and oils to both exhibitions from its collection and had its own display of works on paper at the Royal Cornwall Museum as well. The exhibitions were funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and sponsored by Bonhams Auctioneers.

A selection of loans from Falmouth Art gallery and the Royal Cornwall Museum with loans from private collectors is currently on show at the Fine Art Society 148 New Bond Street London until 28th August where there are also some works for sale.

Catherine Wallace 26/7/08

Catherine Wallace’s book ‘Catching the Light: The Art and Life of Henry Scott Tuke’ published by Atelier book is available from Falmouth Art gallery, the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, the Fine Art Society, London, Penlee House Museum and Art gallery, Penzance and Falmouth bookseller. £35.00.

Catherine is also the author of  ‘Paintings from Cornwall A Catalogue of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society’s Tuke Collection published by Halsgrove £34.99 available from all the above and in general book shops.



see 'profiles' for Tuke biography also by Cath Wallace