Johnny Jackett first modelled for Henry Scott Tuke when he was sixteen. The resulting picture, The Swimmer's Pool, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1895 where it sold for £600 before the exhibition had even opened. Johnny's subsequent appearance in at least eight of Tuke's major paintings attests to his ability as a model. He excelled as an athlete, winning the title of Cycling Champion of Cornwall repeatedly throughout the 1890s. He went on to attain thirteen caps as a full-back for the England XV between 1905 and 1909.
The successful professional relationship between Johnny and Tuke was fortified by a close friendship. Tuke had asked Johnny's boat-building father, Thomas, to design and build a new boat, Red Heart for him in 1895. From this moment on, Tuke and Johnny sailed, swam and cycled together. Johnny even lodged with Tuke for a while until 1901 when he left for the Boer War.
The present picture probably correlates to the Sketch of Johnny Jackett (R220) in The Registers of Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) (B.D Price (ed.), Falmouth, 1983) which was given to G.Natorp. It could also, however be Head of Johnny Jackett (R273), exhibited at the New Gallery in 1899, in which the model is described as wearing a blue shirt.
We are grateful to Kenneth McConkey for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.