Catalogue entry

N01618 ALL HANDS TO THE PUMPS 1888–9

Inscr. ‘H. S. Tuke. 1889’ b.r.
Canvas, 73×55 (185·5×140).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1889.
Exh: R.A., 1889 (464); R.A., Late Members, winter 1933 (286).
Lit: C. Kains-Jackson in Magazine of Art, 1902, pp.338 and 342–3, repr. p.339; Art Journal, 1907, pp.358–9, repr.; Sainsbury, 1933, pp.86–8.
Repr: Sir Edward J. Poynter, The National Gallery, III, 1900, p.283.

At the time of painting this picture Tuke was living aboard an old French brigatine, the Julie, anchored in Falmouth Harbour. In a letter to his mother, dated 27 September 1888 (quoted by Sainsbury, loc. cit.), he noted ‘...I am just ordering a stretcher for my great pumping picture which is to be rather a big venture, about ten figures altogether. Unfortunately they come rather small, only about 2 ft. high, tho’ the picture is to be 6 ft. by 4 1/2; all this is quite contrary to your notions of my doing small pictures, but I am rather of Mr Bartlett's opinion that “the big uns get yer name up, Tooke”. Only seven instead of ten figures are included in the final composition, a reduction which allowed greater scale for each figure. Tuke owned a small fleet of sailing and rowing boats from which he painted studies of boats and shipping in Falmouth Bay. ‘All Hands to the Pumps’ was finished by the middle of March 1889.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II