This oil sketch by Henry Scott Tuke was painted on his trip to Venice in May 1899. It was his third visit to La Serenissima. He had come specifically to paint a portrait of Horatio Forbes Brown (1854-1926), the writer and historian, who had moved to Venice in 1879 with his mother. Tuke had stayed with Brown at Casa Torresella, on the Zattere, on his two previous visits, the last one being in order to paint a portrait of Horatio's mother. He would rise early and work on his portrait of Brown from 6.00-8.30am, then after lunch they would row out to the Lido and bathe. Tuke described Venice on 31 May in a letter to his sister Maria Tuke Sainsbury; 'It is the loveliest place in the world, but so difficult to attack. To do much it would be essential to settle down for 6 months or so, and feel there was plenty of time'.
This painting is listed in Tuke's register of paintings as Venice (R327). In his diary he records on 18th May 'trying to sketch in a small canal', and described in another letter to his sister how he found 'There is too much to distract one, as when one is painting, something goes by to eclipse one's chosen subject'.
Most of the Venice sketches known from this trip are in watercolour, so this oil is quite rare. Tuke would have painted it rapidly on the spot, and this is apparent in the bold, impressionist brushwork. He uses a subtle palette of pinks, blues and jade green to capture the shifting light.
We are grateful to Catherine Wallace for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.