Sotheby’s Victorian & Edwardian art sale on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 will include a collection of six works by Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) which come to the market from a Private Collection. With a combined pre-estimate low estimate of just over £200,000, the group comprises oils, a sculpture and a watercolour.
Although Tuke was born in Yorkshire, the family moved to Falmouth during his early childhood, where his connection with Cornwall began. He studied in London at the Slade School under Sir Edward John Poynter and then travelled to Paris and Italy where he had his first taste of en plein air painting. The concept of painting outside direct from the subject and of using ordinary models was a new and exciting one, which he embraced with his young artistic contemporaries who had settled in Newlyn in the early 1880s. Led by Stanhope Forbes, they initiated a new approach to painting, depicting the local fishing villages and people and employing a square brush technique, muted colours and rendering the cool, Cornish light in a manner that became the hallmark of the Newlyn School. In 1885, Tuke moved from Newlyn to Falmouth to pursue in particular his own ideas for the nude figure in the open air for which he is best known. In Cornwall, the sun, the sea and the local area provided him with endless stimuli, expressed in his paintings which capture the golden days of ‘Edwardian Summer’ before the outbreak of the First World War.
Return from Fishing, painted in 1907 and estimated at £100,000-150,000, depicts a glorious summer day, with light shimmering off the ocean where the fleet of herring boats are moored offshore and the younger members of the community are idling on the beach and rowing in the calm waters. A young man walks by laden with furled sails after an early morning spent fishing at sea; his catch is laid out on the beach. The model for this figure is Tuke’s favourite, Charlie Mitchell. Mitchell posed for almost all of Tuke’s important canvases of this period.
Further highlights include:
*The Bather Painted 1924. Oil on canvas Estimate: £40,000-60,000.
*The Cavern Oil on canvas, Estimate: £8,000-12,000.
*The Watcher Bronze, Executed in 1916 in an edition of five Estimate: £25,000-35,000.
*Nude on the Rocks Painted 1927 Oil on panel Estimate: £25,000-35,000.
*Boy Against Rock Watercolour Estimate: £4,000-6,000.
Sotheby’s Victorian & Edwardian Art Sale will also feature further examples by Newlyn School artists. Walter Langley (1852-1922) is represented with A Flemish Peasant (est. £40,000-60,000) and Local Critics (est. £30,000-50,000), a rare, possibly unique example of an artist’s materials being included in a Newlyn painting. The present work depicts a courtyard of a Newlyn fisherman’s cottage where a family of locals has gathered around an easel to inspect the work of the artist. Langley had been living in Cornwall for almost twenty years and by 1901 the local fisherfolk were familiar with the sight of artists painting in the cobbled streets and on the quayside. An exhibition of ‘Walter Langley and the Birmingham Boys’ took place recently (11 June – 10 September 2011) at Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Penzance, Cornwall.
Painted in 1916, With Wind and Tide – Off The Dodman-Head, Falmouth by Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917) completes the selection of works painted in Cornwall (est. £8,000-12,000).
Waiting to Cross
Waiting to Cross by Albert Moore (1841-1893), estimated at £300,000-500,000, the painting was the artist’s only contribution to the Grosvenor Gallery exhibition of 1888. It comes to auction following the success of the exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1890 at the Victorian & Albert Museum in London earlier this year and currently on view at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The Aesthetic Movement had its own dedicated showplace, namely the Grosvenor Gallery in New Bond Street, which had opened in 1877. It would have shown Moore’s picture to maximum advantage.
The composition of three female figures standing together with their arms entwined is ordered and harmonious, its formal perfection in alignment with the sensibilities of the Aesthetic Movement. The colour scheme of pale grey and chartreuse is typically sophisticated and Moore relished the abstract patterns formed by the draperies of the robes and the leaves of the trees. Although Moore’s mature work is often said to be devoid of a narrative element, here the figures are awaiting the arrival of a boat to take them across the water. As one of the girls glances back over her shoulder, she engages the attention of the spectator. Although it is difficult to identify the models who posed for Moore’s pictures, as he tended to abbreviate their features into a generic classical ideal, it appears that the models for the two women, one dark and the other blonde, are the same as those that feature in one of Moore’s masterpieces, Midsummer, painted in the previous year.
The entwined poses of the three figures evoke depictions of The Three Graces but it is unlikely that the present painting depicts any specific mythological characters. By giving the picture the title Waiting to Cross, rather than a Latin or Greek name, Moore has underlined its modernity.
Image: Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929), Return from Fishing, Estimate £100,000-150,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.