Tuke was a strong supporter of the New English Art Club, and the rather sentimental anecdotal quality in this painting was alien to its principles - and indeed was unusual in Tuke’s work. Even here, however, the boy’s expression is ambiguous and uncertain and the picture is more than a mere celebration of young love. The rather awkward composition with the two figures arbitrarily cut off at bust or waist height and pushed into one corner also reflects Newlyn and Impressionist principles, although Tuke may also have got the idea from the very different style of Lawrence Alma-Tadema.


  • Title: The Promise
  • Creator: Henry Scott Tuke
  • Date Created: 1888
  • tag / style: Henry Scott Tuke; Plein air; promise; love; tree; blossom; boy; girl; outdoors; New English Art Club; young love
  • Where painted: Penmere, near Falmouth
  • Physical Dimensions: w675 x h568 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Tuke entered the Slade School of Art, London, in 1875, and studied under Alphonse Legros and Sir Edward Poynter. He won a Slade scholarship in 1877 and in 1880 travelled to Italy. There, he made his first nude life drawings. These were an important development in his approach towards light, colour and the human form. In 1883 Tuke settled in Newlyn, Cornwall, where he became a founder-member of the Newlyn School of artists. In 1885 he moved to Falmouth, where he spent the rest of his life. A year after his move, in 1886, Tuke became a founder-member of the New English Art Club. As well as producing his popular bathing pictures, Tuke established himself as a successful portraitist both locally and in London. He was elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1900, becoming a full Academician in 1914. An accomplished watercolourist, he was also a member of the Royal Water Colour Society.
  • Additional artwork information: ‘The Promise’ particularly attracted the attention of the Portfolio’s critic at the 1888 New English Art Club exhibition:‘But the bit of rustic life The Promise, a boy’s and a girl’s heads and hands, against a background of fruit-blossom, is deliciously fresh and well modelled, but an instance of the fad of placing the subject on the canvas as if it was a piece awkwardly cut out of a big picture, a fashion for which Mr. Tadema has something to answer’. To learn more about this painting, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/19c/tuke.aspx
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Presented by George Audley in 1925

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