PHILIP WILSON STEER OM NEAC
Birkenhead 1860 - 1942 London
Philip Wilson Steer was one of the leading London Impressionists who was able to enjoy an almost legendary reputation during his own lifetime. His initial training was at the Gloucester School of Art under John Kemp. Then, failing admission to the Royal Academy Schools, he went to Paris in 1882 and studied at the Academie Julian under Bouguereau and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Cabanel, returning to London two years later. After a short period of Whistlerian influence, Steer emerged between 1887 and 1894 as England's fines Impressionist painter.
A founder of the New English Art Club in 1886, he continued to exhibit there throughout his life and in 1889 was included in their London Impressionists' exhibition at the Goupil Gallery. A surprising reversion of style took place circa 1895 when Steer consciously cultivated an anachronistic quality in his work, making reference to Manet in his figure painting and nudes and experimenting with Gainsborough and Fragonard's handling of paint. After 1900 he resumed his interest in landscape painting but expressed it in an essentially English vein, reminiscent of Turner and Constable. His works of the 1920s and 1930s especially the watercolours, illustrate his remarkable sensitivity to tone and light, for which Steer possessed an intuitive and natural gift.