This is one of many pictures Tuke painted of young boys bathing in the open air around Falmouth Harbour in Cornwall. The four boys appear unconscious of the viewer’s gaze as they enjoy the sunshine on their naked skin. Although females had to be covered up, nude male bathing was common at this time and was a popular subject for artists.
Tuke celebrates the youthful ideal in this painting; the title evokes a blissful childhood without suggesting it would never end. Hindsight gives added poignancy: these boys would shortly be sent to the battlefields of the First World War.
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Henry Scott Tuke (...)