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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Henry Scott Tuke: Idylls of youth (1858 - 1929)

O delicate youth, thy praises shall be sung
While yet my heart is young . . .
While Life and I, in search of lovely things,
Go out with dancing feet and dreaming eyes,
And find wild Folly, with her rainbow wings,
Sweeter than all the wisdom of the wise.

O delicate Youth, thy praises shall be sung
While yet my heart is young . . .
Thy whiteness, and thy brightness, and the sweet
Flushed softness of thy little restless feet . . .
The tossed and sunny tangle of thy hair,
Thy swiftness, slimness, shyness, simpleness,
That set the old folk sighing for the rare
Red rose of Joy thy careless days possess.

. . . And when at last, with sad, indifferent face,
I walk in narrow pathways patiently;
Forgetful of thy beauty, and thy truth,
Thy ringing laughter, thy rebellious grace . . .
When fair Love turns his face away from me . . .
Then, let me die, O delicate sweet Youth!
Olive Custance (1874 - 1944)
In Praise of Youth

Henry Scott Tuke

Henry Scott Tuke (1858 - 1929) was a British painter and photographer. Shown here are some of his paintings of youths, most from the late 1890's, early 1900's, in Falmouth, Cornwall. For those who might question the age of the models, we should remember that this was over a century ago and attitudes reflected a much different time than today. It's unfortunate that we have apparently lost the freedom that allowed Tuke to paint his models and that allowed the youths the simplicity of their innocence. It should be noted that,

"Although Tuke's paintings of nude youths undoubtedly appealed to his gay friends and art-buyers, they are never explicitly sexual. The models' genitals are almost never shown, they are almost never in physical contact with each other, and there is never any suggestion of overt sexuality. Most of the paintings have the nude models standing or crouching on the beach facing out to sea, so only the back view is displayed."
Catherine Wallace, Catching the Light: the art and life of Henry Scott Tuke 1858–1929

According to Wallace, all of Tuke's regular models were called up during WWI and, as expected, some did not return.

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