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Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929)
My friend Haumont
Signed, inscribed and dated "H.S.Tuke/Paris 1882" (upper right) and inscribed with title (upper left)

Oil on canvas laid down on panel
8¼ x 6½ inches

Provenance: Private collection, Paris


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This seminal work was painted whilst Henry Scott Tuke was studying in Paris under Jean-Paul Laurens at the Acedémie Julian and, significantly, it was the same year (1882) that Tuke met Jules Bastien-Lepage who was to have such a great influence on him and the generation that have become known as the British Impressionists. Bastien-Lepage was a pioneer of en plein air painting and although this is a portrait, the principles of rapid brushwork and a rejection of studio re-working are very much apparent here. The picture has traditionally been identified as a self-portrait but comparison with other images of the artist is inconclusive. It is more likely to be a portrait of fellow Académie student Emile Richard Haumont. The image captures that timeless quality of youth; a combination of confidence and a rather mannered self-expression with the hat worn at a jaunty angle and the clay pipe rakishly hanging from the corner of the mouth. A wonderful snap shot that seems to encapsulate the essence of that time in Paris, a city that was alive with creativity and possibilities where Tuke met John Singer Sargent, Oscar Wilde and mixed with a host of other British artists studying there (including his great friend, Thomas Cooper Gotch). 

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Henry Scott Tuke studied firstly at the Slade School under Alphonse Legros and Sir Edward John Poynter (1875–80), followed by time spent in Florence and then Paris at the Acedémie Julian, where he was strongly influenced by contemporary French plein-air painting. Tuke had known and loved Cornwall since childhood and after he returned to England in 1883 he settled there, living first at Newlyn and then from 1885 in a cottage at Falmouth. In 1886 Tuke became a founder member of the New English Art Club and by this time he had become well known for his Arcadian images of nude boys on Cornish beaches but it was one of these paintings that was to prompt the influential dealer Martin Colnaghi to withdraw his financial backing from the club's first exhibition, a somewhat prudish to the appearance of the male nude in a naturalistic setting as opposed to an academic studio life study.

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