Henry Scott Tuke
August Blue 1893–4

Artwork details

Henry Scott Tuke 1858–1929
August Blue
Date 1893–4
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1219 x 1829 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1894
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1890

Display caption

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.

September 2004