Artist biography

English painter. He entered the Slade School of Art, London, in 1875. In 1877 he won a Slade scholarship and in 1880 travelled to Italy, where he made his first nude life drawings, an important revelation to him of light, colour and the human form. From 1881 to 1883 he was in Paris and met Jules Bastien-Lepage. Admiring Bastien-Lepage's practice of focusing different areas of a painting by degrees of finish, Tuke adopted this in his own mature work.

In 1883 Tuke settled in Newlyn, Cornwall, and was a founder-member of the Newlyn school. During the 1880s he produced anecdotal plein-air paintings of the life of the Cornish fishing community.

In 1892 Tuke travelled to Italy, Corfu and Albania; thereafter his palette lightened dramatically, and his technique gained a new Impressionistic freedom. The nude adolescent male emerged as his principal motif. His admiration of James McNeill Whistler appears in the creation of mood at the expense of narrative and in his preference for evocative titles.

In 1886 Tuke was a founder-member of the New English Art Club and in 1900 he was elected an ARA. Impersonality and detachment combined with sincere commitment to subject and atmosphere characterise his mature style and challenged artistic expectations of the time, broadening the parameters of British plein-air painting.

In 1923 Tuke visited Jamaica and Central America, producing some fine watercolours. He became ill and was forced to return home. He never fully recovered his health, although his passion for travel remained undiminished.

M. T. Sainsbury: Henry Scott Tuke: A Memoir (London, 1933)
E. Cooper: The Life and Work of Henry Scott Tuke (London, 1987)
D. Wainwright and C. Dinn: Henry Scott Tuke, 1858–1929: Under Canvas (London, 1989)


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