Painted on his epic trip to the West Indies in the winter of 1923-4 with the explorers F.A. Mitchell-Hedges, Lady Richmond Brown and the archaeologist Dr Gann, Tuke regarded this as one of the best sketches he completed whilst exploring the Black River area of Jamaica. It features one of the local Jamaican boys, Ralph, lying across the bow of a small boat with the sloop 'Energy' in sail in the background on the Black river with the town beyond. He painted this picture on 28 January 1924 as he remarks in his diary for that day: “Out in the boat with Ralph and did one of the best sketches. Ralph lying across the bow with the sloop Energy and the town behind.”
This watercolour shows Tuke’s great skill at painting in watercolour, using the white of the paper to create the bright Caribbean light across the painting from edge of Ralph’s shirt to the white sail of the schooner and its reflection in the river to the clouds in the sky. The palette of colours he chose is also convincingly Caribbean with cobalt blue and aquamarine for the river, a mix of blue and red to suggest purple hills in the distance and a mix of brown and blue to make the shadows in the painting.
We are grateful to Catherine Wallace for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.