Friday, January 27, 2012

Henry Scott Tuke: Rare Books

Prices for Henry Scott Tuke's paintings have gone through the roof in the last decade or so with celebrity collector's such as Elton John adding a certain something to the mix. The two publications pictured above are both about Tuke and both are very desirable and scarce. Henry Scott Tuke: A Memoir (Martin Secker: London, 1933) by Maria Sainsbury, Tuke's sister was the first biographical work about the painter and remains an important source. It is also vanishingly scarce with, particularly in anything approaching good condition. The economics are simply that in 1933 there were far fewer people who wanted to read the life of Tuke than there are now, consequently the book wouldn't have been printed in large numbers at the time and there are now more people who want it than there are copies available. Hence, a copy in very good condition is likely to start at £250. The photos below are all from this book.

The other publication in the photo above is even rarer but has no pictures at all, in fact it is about 70 pages of close black type on A4 pages. In the mid-1960s an independent scholar named Brian Price tracked down as many of the people who had known Tuke and were still alive as he could find. He interviewed them on an old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorder and then transcribed the interviews and called the result Tuke Reminiscences. The epic nature of this quest is only underlined when you consider that in order to produce it in a comfortable form he then typed into the IBM mainframe computer that he used at his day job, using a word-processing program that he had to write himself expressly for the purpose. A single copy was printed and the pages then copied electrostatically and ring bound between blank white cards. The authors of Henry Scott Tuke: 1858-1929, Under Canvas, (Sarema Press, 1989) David Wainwright and Catherine Dinn credit this document as being one of their most important sources in compiling what has been recognised as Tuke's definitive biography. I can't find a copy of this for sale online and the last one I saw was some years ago. I have forgotten what it might have been priced at then, but it wasn't cheap.

1 comment:

phcube said...

I remember reading the Maria Tuke Sainsbury book many years ago. It is quite insightful, but at the same time, it is written from her perception and as such is carefully edited.
As you say, difficult to find. After several years of searching I found and bought an ex-library copy, only to have it "go missing" in the postal stratosphere!

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