Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history

Dinner Time

Oil on canvas. Purchased 2012 with assistance from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The Art Fund and the Friends of Penlee House

Henry Scott Tuke

1858 - 1929

Although Tuke's time living in the village of Newlyn was relatively short, he was nevertheless a leading figure among the 'Newlyn School' artists, included not only in the iconic group photographs, but also in individual portraits, usually set among Newlyn's fishing boats.



Henry Scott Tuke - 1858 - 1929

Henry Scott Tuke was born in York in to a Quaker dynasty in 1858, and came to live in Falmouth in 1860.  His happy childhood memories of Cornwall undoubtedly shaped his decision 23 years later to return to live in the county, firstly in Newlyn and then in Falmouth, where he remained for the rest of his life.

He entered the Slade School of Art in 1875 and two years later won a Slade scholarship, enabling him to continue his studies and travel to Europe.  In 1880, he travelled to Italy and then based himself in Paris from 1881 to 1883.  Here he met Jules Bastien-Lepage, whose plein-air realist technique Tuke adopted this in his own mature work.

At the instigation of his great friends Thomas and Caroline Gotch, with whom he studied at the Slade School of Art in London, Tuke first visited Newlyn in 1879.  He returned in 1883 and found the village inspirational, declaring that it was ‘simply reeking with subjects’.   He settled in Newlyn, becoming a founder-member of the Newlyn School and a leading figure in the art colony, and producing superb anecdotal ‘square brush’ paintings of the life of the Cornish fishing community.

A passionate sailor, he eventually chose to settle in Falmouth, moving to a cottage at Pennance Point in 1885 and keeping this as his base for the next 40 years.  He continued to visit Newlyn frequently, maintaining his friendships with various members of the colony.

In 1886, Tuke bought an old French brigantine called the ‘Julie of Nantes’, which became his floating studio.  He frequently painted other craft in the water, using the intimate knowledge of rigging and seamanship to excellent effect.

Today, Tuke is best known painting the human form ‘en plein air’, using local boys as his uninhibited models (e.g. ‘August Blue’ – Tate), but his early work in Newlyn, such as ‘Dinner Time’, using a muted palette and strong chiaroscuro, is arguably his strongest.  

Tuke was a founder-member of the New English Art Club in 1886 and in 1900 he was elected an ARA, gaining full Academician status in 1914.