Green Waters, Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929)
Oil on canvas, Newlyn School, late 19th / early 20th century. A man sculling in a small boat. Henry Scott Tuke was born into a Quaker family in Lawrence Street, York. In 1859 the family moved to Falmouth, where his father Daniel Tuke , a physician, established a practice. Tuke was encouraged to draw and paint from an early age and some of his earliest drawings, aged four or five years old, were published in 1895. In 1875, he enrolled in the Slade School of Art. Initially his father paid for his tuition but in 1877 Tuke won a scholarship, which allowed him to continue his training at the Slade and in Italy in 1880. From 1881 to 1883 he was in Paris where he met the artist Jules Bastien-Lepage, who encouraged him to paint en plein air (in the open air) a method of working that came to dominate his practice. While studying in France, Tuke decided to move to Newlyn, Cornwall where many of his Slade and Parisian friends had already formed the Newlyn School of painters. He received several lucrative commissions there, after exhibiting his work at the Royal Academy of Art in London. In 1885, he returned to Falmouth where many of his major works were produced. He became an established artist and was elected to full membership of the Royal Academy in 1914. Tuke suffered a heart attack in 1928 and died in March 1929. In his will he left generous amounts of money to some of the men who, as boys, had been his models. Today he is remembered mainly for his oil paintings of young men, but in addition to his achievements as a figurative painter, he was an established maritime artist and produced as many portraits of sailing ships as he did human figures. He was a prolific artist, over 1,300 works are listed and more are still being discovered.
Captain Tom Gundry, champion Cornish wrestler. Probably early 1880s
A studio portrait photograph of the champion Cornish wrestler, Thomas Gundry, wearing a wrestling jacket and two championship sashes. Gundry was born at Higher Prospidnick, Sithney, on 16th October 1818 and died at Stennack, Camborne, on 22nd October 1888. His obituary in the 'Mining Journal' of 27th October 1888 reads "Captain Tom Gundry is dead. This brief announcement will be read with regret by Cornishmen in every quarter of the world. 'Captain Tom' was the best known of the old school of Cornish wrestlers, and will be remembered for his prowess in the ring, and not as a mine agent. Born 70 years ago Captain Tom was bred in the parish of Sithney and from a child developed a strong passion for the favourite sport of the West Countryman. In the old days, wrestling was cultivated to a far higher degree than now; the leading gentlemen of the county, assisted by their patronage, presence, and financial support; and a match was the signal for an exodus of miners to witness the bouts. Captain Tom held the championship for a long period; he won many cups, and wrestled, not only in Cornwall and Devon; but in London also. It is said of him that whilst he unquestionably bought many 'backs', he never sold his own. He was at one time agent at Camborne Consols, and at another period agent at North Basset. Of late years he now and then assisted as stickler in the wrestling field. He expired at his home near Camborne, on Tuesday evening." He was married four times, the last at Treslothan, Camborne in May 1880. Photographer: John Charles Burrow.
© From the collection of the RIC
John Vivian of Pencalenick, John Opie (1761-1807)
Oil on canvas, English School, around 1780. A portrait of a young John Vivian of Pencalenick (1772-1817). Vivian later became a Barrister and was High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1812. John Opie was born in Harmony Cottage, Trevellas, between St Agnes and Perranporth in Cornwall. He was the youngest of the five children of Edward Opie, a master carpenter, and his wife Mary (nee Tonkin). He showed a precocious talent for drawing and mathematics, and by the age of twelve he had mastered the teachings of Greek mathematician Euclid and opened an evening school for poor children where he taught reading, writing and arithmetic. His father, however, did not encourage his abilities, and apprenticed him to his own trade of carpentry. Opie's artistic abilities eventually came to the attention of local physician and satirist, Dr John Wolcot (who used the pen name Peter Pindar), who visited him at the sawmill where he was working in 1775. Recognising a great talent, Wolcot became Opie's mentor, buying him out of his apprenticeship and insisting that he come to live at his home in Truro. Wolcot provided invaluable encouragement, advice, tuition and practical help in the advancement of his early career, including obtaining many commissions for work. In 1781, having gained considerable experience as a portraitist travelling around Cornwall, Opie moved to London with Wolcot. There they lived together, having entered into a formal profit-sharing agreement. Although Opie had received a considerable artistic education from Wolcot, the doctor chose to present him as a self-taught prodigy; a portrait of a boy shown at the Society of Artists the previous year, had been described in the catalogue as "an instance of Genius, not having ever seen a picture." Wolcot introduced the "Cornish wonder" to leading artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was to compare him to Caravaggio and Velazquez.