Photo credit: Dartmouth Museum
Edward Tucker (Snr) was born in 1815/16 at Woolwich and died in 1898 at Ambleside.
I can see the confusion with the death date because an Edward Tucker did die in 1908, not the one you describe, but Edward Arden the son of Edward Tucker – because of the confusion with his father he is known as Arden.
However, are we sure that this is by Edward Tucker? He always signed ‘E TUCKER’. I cannot see a signature in the present image, and this is not a typical Edward Tucker.
Art UK adds: The collection hopes that Art Detective may be able to confirm its own research with a definable provenance on the picture. A label identifies the artist as ‘Edwin Tucker’ and the date as 1835. It was purchased by the Friends of Dartmouth Museum from A.R.t.(?) Investments, 124 Brompton Road, London SW1 on 22 May 1963 for £240.
The ‘Edward Tucker (c.1825–1909)’ listed as the artist on Art UK, appears to derive from Getty ULAN and/or Christopher Wright, ‘British and Irish Paintings in Public Collections’ (2006), p.775.
The attachments consist of Art UK’s high-resolution image; the collection’s Authority File associated with this painting; an obituary of Edward Tucker in the ‘Westmoreland Gazette’, 18 June 1898; Bristol census of 1861 listing the family of Edward Tucker, watercolour artist (age 44); Tucker family members listed in 1890.
This discussion is now closed. The attribution has been amended to Edwin Wallace Tucker (1798–1860) and a biography of the artist has been produced for Art UK. This is the only painting by this member of the Tucker family of artists in a UK public collection, although Art UK also lists 22 landscape and coastal paintings by his nephew John Wallace Tucker (1808–1869).
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.
For what it may be worth, this looks like the work of a topographer, such as a painter-engraver of views. I am not making or suggesting an attribution, but William Daniell (1769-1837) was such a person, and there are at least couple of Dartmouth views by him published as prints in 1825 (British Museum, see below):
Daniell has works on Art UK.
It appears that Edward Tucker was a watercolour artist, though I suppose he might also have worked in oils:
Edward Tucker started his career under the instruction of Thomas Woolnoth, the engraver.
Charles E. Tucker exhibited 'Early June Dartmouth Harbour' at the Royal Academy in 1895. I would hazard a guess that his middle name was Edward and that his works have been conflated with Edward Tucker of Francis Street, Woolwich. See attachment.
I found the following for Charles E. Tucker, done in a very similar engraving-like style:
The purported date of 1835 may have been a misreading of 1895.
Well done, Tim (and Jacinto - that is clearly by him too). Yes, I agree that the 1835 was probably a misreading.
Charles Edward Tucker was born at Didsbury, south Manchester in early 1854 or late '53 (regd Chorlton 1854 Q1), the son of Francis & Caroline Tucker. His father Francis (c.1813-1887) was a Plymouth-born baptist minister (ed. either Edinburgh or Glasgow Uni) who had worked as a missionary in Calcutta before returning to found the Union Chapel, Manchester c.1840/1. He continued there until his appointment to the Camden Rd Chapel c.1858, when the family including Charles moved to London. See https://bit.ly/2Xqla0U & https://bit.ly/2Jk4bUb.
In 1871 (at 29 Hilldrop Road, Islington) Charles was a Clerk in a newspaper office, and from the same address (his parents' home) he first exhibited at the SBA in 1880 (a w/c of Hastings) & 1881 (prob an oil), by which time that year's census describes him as 'Artist - painter'. In 1891 he was living alone & unmarried at Lower St, Dartmouth, Devon ('Artist & Painter'), and also exhibited from Dartmouth the same year**. In 1894 he exhibited from south Manchester (Chorlton-on-Medlock)**. Shortly afterwards he returned to London - the RA exhibits (including our work) give us his addresses there 1895-1904, the 1899 one (10 Millbank St, Westminster) being the same as in the 1901 census. His occupation is described very precisely: 'Artist (Painter, Figure Cartoonist)' / '(1) Own Account - at Home' & '(2) Worker - at Firm's Studio'. Note that the word 'sculp' does not mean he was a sculptor - it is the very odd statistical category added later for all artists by the census office, and causes no end of confusion for historians.
The same exactness is found in his 1911 census entry: 'Figure Artist, Mural Painter Designer' & even more detail in the next three descriptive columns. This seems rather appropriate to a man who clearly liked to paint in a very precise manner. He is still in Westminster / Pimlico, on the river in Grosvenor Road. I haven't yet managed to pin down when he died, but 1914 was the last time he is known to have exhibited**.
I will upload census and other images later.
**Johnson & Greutzner (1976) gives his exhibiting details thus: RA - 3, RBA - 2, RI (Royal Inst Painters in w/c) - 6, ROI ( Royal Inst Oil Painters) - 4, Dudley/New Dudley - 5, and Manchester - 1. Exhib 1880-1914. Addresses London (from 1880 & 1895) Dartmouth (1891) & Manchester (1894)
Well, after all that I'm now pretty sure this picture is not by Charles Edward Tucker (b. 1853/4) after all!
Despite his Dartmouth residence, and the RA exhibited work that apparently fits the bill, the style of painting and typical early C19th figures look most unlikely for a late 19th/early C20th artist - even if he were attempting a retrospective view. Here are two genuine works by C.E.T. - from the addresses one is circa 1900, the other perhaps a decade (or more) later: https://bit.ly/2FPqBvu & https://bit.ly/3286odS. This is a much more modern artist, with an utterly different feel, and I find it hard to believe he was painting so differently even in 1885.
But there is more. The analogous painting found by Jacinto (of Rougemont Castle, Exeter) that on the linked website is said to be by 'Charles E Tucker' is not at all. It was sold at Bonhams in 2013 (https://bit.ly/328QwaU), and there it is described as signed 'Charles W Tucker' - and it is dated 1835, the same year given to our one. It is a lot smaller than ours, and on panel; ours is also not on canvas but 'on board' - artist's millboard, I suppose, though it's pretty big. The better image at Bonhams confirms a similarly methodical and detailed brushwork to ours, and the figures are even more clearly consistent with an 1830s date.
A bit of digging has uncovered a number of early/mid-C19th Exeter-based artists & carver/gilders called Tucker; one, John Wallace Tucker (1808-1869) is well-represented on Art UK (https://bit.ly/2xpzZ4r) - he painted (often on board or panel) in a similar, probably untrained style. I think it likely they are all related, though I have yet to get to the bottom of exactly who's who; but in an 1839 Directory are listed, at the same address in Sidwell St, Exeter, Charles W Tucker (Portrait Painter) and E W Tucker (Marine, Landscape & Heraldry Painter) - the latter is presumably the Edwin Tucker, Herald Painter, listed at 256 HIgh St, Exeter in 1835; and also the Edwin Tucker, Heraldry Painter (b.c.1805), who is recorded at Townsend's Court, Sidwell St in the 1841 & 1851 censuses.
There is a lot more work to be done on this, but it seems highly likely that this is our artist.
It would be good to see an image of the label (and anything else) on the rear of the painting, and also to get confirmation of what is meant by 'on board'.
His full name was Edwin Wallace Tucker. In March 1849 he married Harriet Shallis at St Mary Steps, Exeter - his rank/profession is 'Painter', and his father is given as John Tucker, a market gardener (dead). Despite being described as a bachelor, there is an earlier marriage recorded in London (Holy Trinity, Marylebone) in Aug 1838 of a man with the same full name, to Mary Bloodworth. To be investigated. He died in Exeter on 4th May 1860 "at his residence, St Sidwell's", and was buried at St James on the 13th (abode Sidwell St, age 55 years).
Stylistically this must surely be first third of the 19th century at the latest (as Jacinto suggested with his first post). It is from the same viewpoint as the lithograph by the Dartmouth artist George Rowe (1797-1864) http://www.rareoldprints.com/p/18294.
The name of Tucker may be a red herring; the date of 1835 may not be.
I sincerely hope the name Tucker is not a red herring, Andrew – if so, a mass of research I've been doing in the last week is too! But I completely agree that both our painting and the Exeter view at Bonhams signed Charles W Tucker are consistent with an 1835 date.
I think that broadly we should accept that the label said to be on ours gives the right information unless there is good evidence to the contrary; the name 'Edwin Tucker' is all but unknown in the art historical context, and would therefore be an extremely odd one to choose without a reason. I mention again that an image of the label (if it's still there) would be very much appreciated – is it contemporary, and what exactly does it say? Could it relate to ownership rather than authorship...and is there anything else on the back? These are important questions without which a sound attribution will be problematic.
Edit: I am puzzled by the mention of “the collection’s Authority File associated with this painting” as one of the attachments; all I can see is a (?)third-party biography of Edward Tucker Senr (and his family), the presumed artist despite having a different name. Other than not being able to find an artist called ‘Edwin Tucker’, and a supposed family connection with Devon for Edward, is there any reason why the collection deduced it was by him?
The biography of Edward Tucker (1816–1898) is the only information that the collection has in its Authority File in the museum catalogue. A slender file is not a rarity, even in major collections.
The label in question, which was not made by the current curator, sits alongside the painting and is probably a direct copy of what (should be) on the back. It definitely states 'Edwin' and the date. The Edward information is from the collection's own investigations later, and was an attempt to find a suitable name and date range in the absence of finding an Edwin.
Thanks, Marion. Is there any chance, do we know, of a digital snap with flash of the original (if still present) and picture rear in the foreseeable? Sorry to go on about it, but the tree I'm barking up (and indeed climbing) is a very big one; I don't really want to go any further up it without being as confident as possible that it isn't the wrong one.
Please find attached a copy of Art UK's image, as well as images of the two labels, which are in fact on the back of the picture.
Thanks very much, Marion & collection.
So, not just 'Edwin Tucker' but 'Edwin W Tucker', which is very encouraging. Clearly a modern label, but presumably based on what was there before; and as I've already said, it seems reasonable to accept it - why otherwise would a name unknown to art history have been chosen?
The glimpse of the back seems to show a paper-based support, but the painting's size (26 x 40 in.) is such that I don't think it can have been millboard or similar, at least not a commercially-made one - the largest C19th size I know of was under half this, 24 x 20 in. (though I'm no expert). A wooden panel of this size seems equally unlikely. If I'm right then either the artist made up something himself (he was used to painting large images, as we shall see later); or he painted on stretched canvas, which was later cut from the stretcher and pasted on to some sort of board backing . This of course would have covered up or lost a rear inscription on canvas or stretcher. It is interesting to note that few, if any paintings by John Wallace Tucker - a close relation, as I’ll shortly explain - are signed on the front, but most, or all have full rear inscriptions. The same is true of the Exeter view at Bonhams by Charles W Tucker – more to come on him, too.
The other label doesn't really help - Pitt & Scott Ltd were a long-standing packing, removals & storage company, especially for overseas transportation, founded in around 1878 and continuing until their takeover by Pickfords in 1985. In later years they specialized in fine art packing and transport, with offices in Paris & New York as well as the UK. The label style is not very specific, but suggests to me a date between the 1930s & early 60s - 1950s if I had to guess.
Would Osmund and others agree that we are probablyt in a position to 'attribute' this painting to the Exeter artist Edwin Wallace Tucker (b.c.1805, d.1860)?
The evidence appears to be confirmed as not by Edward Tucker. Which i think we more or less thought at the time.
One spanner in the works though. Oil paintings by Edward Tucker in my opinion were painted by his wife which Edward Tucker signed for financial reasons. I have one of these.
The information that was released to the press in 1963 was that Dartmouth Museum had acquired a painting of ‘Dartmouth Harbour’ painted by Torbay-born Artist Edwin Tucker in 1835. There doesn’t seem to be a mention of the ‘Friends of Dartmouth Museum’ but it does say that the V&A had contributed towards the payment. Could there be more information in the V&A if they were somehow involved in the purchase of this painting, perhaps in the archives or end of year report of 1963.
‘An original painting of Dartmouth Harbour by a 19th century Torquay-born artist, Edwin Tucker, is also to be acquired by the museum. It was painted in 1835. The Victoria and Albert Museum is to contribute towards the purchase of the picture from a London based art dealer’
- Torbay Express and South Devon Echo, Mon 13th May 1963.
I agree Andrew that it can be attributed to Edwin Wallace Tucker, as researched by Osmund. In answer to E.Jones, I'm afraid the V&A files would be very rudimentary, even if they still exist for this 1963 purchase. In those days grant applications could be just a simple letter, and this painting was acquired for its local interest rather than the importance of the artist.
I am hoping that this comment works.
I have been in to the Dartmouth museum today and I attach three photographs which surely help with the debate. Edwin Tucker,and painted in 1835.
Well spotted, Trudy, and what a wonderful close-up, thank you - we (and I suspect the Collection) were completely unaware there was a signature and date on the front!
It is actually most unexpected, as every other work I've seen by artists of the Tucker family of Exeter (at least five of them) has full details of date, authorship, etc, inscribed on the back, but nothing on the front. However they are all, I think, on panel, and much smaller than this one, and this tends to support my view (11/07/2019 17:05) that this must have been painted on canvas, later laid on to board.
Yes, there is no longer any reasonable doubt that this painting of Dartmouth Harbour is by Edwin Wallace (or Wallis) Tucker, though since my last posts in July 2019 I’ve established that he wasn’t born c.1805, but on 21 Oct 1798, in St Sidwell’s, Exeter (and baptised at the parish church on 13 Dec). He died and was buried at the same place in May 1860, and seems to have lived his whole life in Exeter – I now have a good quantity of data on him, and I’ve found no evidence of any connection to Torquay (as suggested in the 1963 newspaper article unearthed by E Jones).
In the second half of 2019 I in fact did a lot more work on the whole family of artists in Exeter – I had further research plans for Spring 2020, including combining a stay with friends near Taunton with visits to Devon Archives and the V&A in Exeter, both of which hold relevant records. For obvious reasons, though, that didn’t happen.
Nevertheless even the results so far are valuable, I think – and not just those relating to the artist of the painting under discussion. Most of the family relationships are now clear; for instance I’ve discovered that that the well-known and prolific John Wallace Tucker (https://bit.ly/2xpzZ4r) is in fact two different artists of exactly the same name, father (1782-1830) and son (1809-1869), which perhaps explains the widely-differing quality. That there were two of them was still known two decades after the father’s death (https://bit.ly/30s7aTc), but has since been forgotten. The elder JWT was one of Edwin’s four elder brothers; of the five, two became artists, along with three more in the next generation. Others, and/or their descendants, were carvers & gilders (and probably frame-makers), and also picture dealers. It’s an interesting group, with art trade connections between several of the cousins continuing into the 1860s and beyond, in Exeter, London and Kent.
I have some further online work to do on all of this, and even if I never make it to Devon it’ll take a significant amount of time to complete, collate and write up. If Andrew is anxious to get the discussion closed, I suppose it could be done leaving things standing as they are...but that seems a pity with so much more already found and potentially of interest to both Dartmouth and Exeter. I would argue – well, I would, wouldn’t I? – that this is a discussion worth leaving open for a good while longer.
Group Leaders are being rightly encouraged to review all discussions that have been dormant for some years. A satisfactory conclusion had been reached on this one, though it is good to hear of more accurate dates for Edwin Wallace Tucker (1798-1860). Osmund has provided a good deal of new infirmation about the Tucker family of artists and to that extent the initial enquiry has been answered by this fruitful discussion. I am inclined to close it, and let Osmund continue his deeper researches as Covid allows and contribute it directly to the museum, and perhaps for use in the picture caption on Art UK.
So be it. I'm not quite sure, though, why the 20-month period from July 2019 to March 2021 constitutes "some years" - especially when a large chunk of it has been under lockdown restrictions that have not only prevented public admission to libraries and archives, but seriously curtailed - in many cases to zero - staff access to artworks and records.
Re your last suggestion, in my experience most museums and galleries are not too interested in direct contributions to their knowledge base from unknown and unqualified members of the public, and never if they are long and detailed - in fact they often don't reply at all! So I fear Edwin will remain a mysterious figure with one good picture to his name, and a handful of bald dates to his life - unless at some point Pieter can be prevailed upon to work up one of his excellent artist biogs for Art UK from what I have on the man already. I certainly won't be doing any more research into him.
Summary biography attached: as usual, only from what's above.
Thanks, Pieter - at some point I'll email you a selection of the other stuff I have, and you can feed in what you think is useful.
Whenever you like, but at the bottom of the list that you quoted elsewhere the other day!
sadly Osmund's comments above are only too true
I said I was 'inclined' to close the discussion deliberately, so that those involved could express their opinion on the way forward. It has not yet been formally closed.
I suggest you close it. Anything else on Tucker that Osmund provides can be updated into the 'bio' on file with Art UK. As group leaders have already been told these will be online when the general biography links of the site are also expanded: theoretically this year unless the timetable has changed. Tucker brings the current count up to 62 new ones though I thought it was a bit more (probably just seemed it from doing them).
Andrew, thank you for re-starting the conversation about this painting and to all for new comments since the beginning of March.
We are on schedule to add the artist biographies by the end of 2021.
I think we could close this discussion. Andrew, could you send a summary please?
Anyone with significant research in progress or waiting to be written up need only ask for more time, if the question hasn’t been answered, but we have reached a good conclusion here. There’s always more to be said on almost any topic, but further details can be added to the biography, which will have a link to this Art Detective discussion showing the contributors and sources.
I can confirm that a satisfactory conclusion had been reached in this discussion, and it is good to have more accurate dates for the artist, Edwin Wallace Tucker (1798-1860). Osmund has provided most of the new information about the Tucker family of artists and the initial enquiry has been answered by this fruitful discussion. Osmund's researches will form the basis of the biographical notes to be added to the Art UK record of the painting (see Pieter's comment of 12 March 2021).
Pieter's biography will not, of course, contain images of other comparable works by the Tucker family, including an earlier one by Edwin...not to mention numerous informative newspaper articles, pages from exhibition catalogues, etc. Pieter can extract a bit of that, I guess, for his biog, but clearly not all. If we are now saying - perhaps we are - that once the basic question asked in a discussion has been answered, the rest is just icing on the cake, and best separated out (if of any value at all), then it will necessitate a fairly radical shift in the way I, for one, research things. I look forward to a great deal more spare time in my life...!
But you're probably right, Andrew. You once described the purpose of AD to me as "fundamentally an experiment in public engagement and crowdsourcing", and I'm afraid the tiresome old bores like me who make the place so daunting to the casual visitor with 'too many words' and 'too much information' are doubtless much to blame for shifting it away from that. Personally I think the tension between good art history and good public engagement is impossible to resolve; but I quite understand that people whose job it is to try will keep on trying.
Andrew, thank you for confirming that we should conclude this discussion. Special thanks to Osmund for his research on the Tucker family of artists and Pieter for gathering the strands in several posts into a biography for Art UK.