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 Philip Wilson Steer  (1860 - 1942)

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: landscape, portrait and figure painting, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Philip Wilson Steer OM (28 Dec 1860 – 18 March 1942) was a British painter of landscape and occasional portraits and figure studies.  He was a leading figure in the Impressionist movement in Britain.

Steer is best known for his landscapes, such as The Beach at Walberswick (1890; Tate Gallery, London), and Girls Running: Walberswick Pier (1894,Tate Gallery, London).  With Walter Sickert he became a leading British Impressionist.  Besides the French Impressionists he was influenced by Whistler and also by such old masters as Boucher, Gainsborough, Constable and Turner.  He also painted a number of portraits and figure studies (e.g. 'Portrait of Mrs. Raynes' (1922, Tate Gallery, London)).

Philip Wilson Steer was born on 28 December 1860 in Birkenhead, in Merseyside, near Liverpool. He was the son of the portrait-painter, Philip Steer (1810-1871).

After finding the examinations of the British Civil Service too demanding, he became an artist in 1878.  He studied at the Gloucester School of Art and then from 1880 to 1881 at the South Kensington School of Art* Drawing Schools.  He was rejected by the Royal Academy of Art*, and so studied in Paris between 1882 and 1884, firstly at the Academie Julian*, and then in the Ecole des Beaux Arts* under Cabanel, where he became a follower of the Impressionist* school.

Between 1883 and 1885 he exhibited at the Royal Academy.  In 1886 he became a founder of the New English Art Club*, with whom he continued to exhibit regularly.

Between 1893 and 1930 he taught painting at the Slade School of Fine Art*, London. He lived in Chelsea, but in the summers painted in Yorkshire, the Cotswolds and the West Country and on the south and east coasts of Britain.

During World War I he was recruited by Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Information, to paint pictures of the Royal Navy.  In 1931 he was awarded the Order of Merit.  He died in London, 18 March 1942.

His self-portrait is in the collection in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.  He also taught such artists as Anna Airy, an etcher.


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