Born in York to a Quaker family, Henry Scott Tuke is best-known for his paintings of the male nude. He executed a number of oil studies of young male nudes during a tour of Italy in his early twenties in 1881, but the theme did not become central to his work until after 1885, in which year he moved to Falmouth, then still a secluded part of the Cornish coast. Here in the mild seaside climate Tuke focused on maritime scenes, portraits and genre scenes which showed boys and young men bathing, fishing and sunbathing on sun-suffused, idyllic beaches. Executed in 1914, the year Tuke was elected as a full Royal Academician, this standing male nude might be one of the fourteen works the artist exhibited at the Royal Watercolour Society that year, when Tuke was at the height of his powers of painting the male nude outdoors. Unfortunately once the First World War broke out artists were banned from painting along the coast of the U.K. due to governmental concerns about espionage, and Tuke was confined to his studio until his permit was granted in 1917. There is an added poignancy to his works from this era as tragically so many of his models never returned from the Western Front.
We are grateful to Catherine Wallace for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.