Ethel Tucker (1874 - 1962) and Catherine (Kate) Tucker (1879 - 1970)
In her late teens Ethel Tucker moved to New York to study art at the New York School of Applied Design for Women. When she returned home for a visit, her younger sister Kate decided to return with her to study art as well. For the next two years they studied during the day and made Cotillion favours in the evening to meet their living expenses. After working for a few years as commercial and interior designers in New York, both sisters returned to the New York School of Applied Design for Women to teach.
After being away for 11 years the sisters returned to Bermuda. In 1910 they opened The Little Green Door Tea Garden on the waterfront at Barr's Bay. The tea room operated for 29 years and became the haunt of many famous visitors to the Island including Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling and Eugene O'Neill. The following year they opened their first Little Green Door shop in Hamilton. Here they sold their paintings, an enterprise that became so successful they began to produce postcards of their work, eventually creating a series of over 100. They branched out into Christmas cards, then scarves, notelets, playing cards, embroidered linens and brass bells. Always enterprising, in the summer off-season they travelled and opened further tearooms; at Lake Muskoka in Ontario (1915), Lake Placid, New York (1916), and St. Augustine, Florida (1917). In 1928 they opened an antiques store, the first on the Island.
On a visit in 1920, the Prince of Wales bought 20 of their paintings. On his return to England, Her Majesty Queen Mary greatly admired their work and bought a series of her own. These pieces remain in the Royal collection.
Mr. David Mitchell, Curator at the Bermuda National Gallery added the following to his email to me - To this I can add a little further information. Their mother, Leonora Tucker, was also an artist and we have one of her pieces in our collection. The sisters closed their Little Green Door shop in 1958 and semi-retired. It was quite literally the end of an era. In 1959 Bermuda held it's own version of the notorious 1913 New York Armoury exhibition (where modern art was introduced to the US) and art here has never been the same since. 1959 also saw the end to segregation in Bermuda.
We presently have 11 Catherine Tucker's (3 are drawings) but only 2 of Ethel's and none of their books in our collection The painting titles are:-
Marsh Back of the Electric Light Station
Queen street, St. George's, Bermuda
Par-la-Ville Gardens, Hamilton, 1938
Cottage on Long Bay, Somerset
The Little Green Door, Bermuda, ca. 1915
Garden at Harmony Hall, Bermuda
The Rectory, Pembroke, Bermuda
Middle Road, Paget, Bermuda, 1944
Country Cottage, Bermuda, 1956
All are roughly 7 x 10 inches in size. I do not have a photograph of the paintings in the Gallery. They form a permanent part of our Bermuda Collection but as they are watercolours I only install 2 at a time, in rotation, for conservation reasons. Other than the the Royal Collection, I do not know of other pieces in public (or that matter private) collections in Britain. Ours came from the family, who still hold a considerable number.
More recently he wrote to say that the Gallery has received another Ethel Tucker painting as a gift - Near Devil's Hole, Bermuda.
Below are some of the paintings which have been produced as postcards.
No.14 Par-La-Ville Gardens
No.54 The Rectory, Pembroke
No.48 Queen Street, St. Georges
No.66 Middle Road, Paget
No.92 Country Cottage
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