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Philip Wilson Steer ( 1860 - 1942 )  Category ( Painters ) [suggest a correction]
 

Philip Wilson Steer was a late nineteenth and early twentieth-century English painter. He is best known for his landscapes and was part of the English Impressionist movement. He was the son of portrait artist Philip Steer.

While he grew up in an artistic environment and was encouraged and taught drawing and painting by his father, Steer first pursued a career in the Civil Service. He found that profession to be tiresome and too demanding of his time, and in 1878 he turned to art full time. He applied to study and work at the Royal Academy of Art in London, but was rejected. He then turned to Paris and studied at the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux Arts between 1882 and 1884. It was in Paris that he first became influenced by the Impressionist movement.

He became friends with artist Walter Sickert, who was also an English Impressionist, and the two friends helped to found the New English Art Club in 1886. He returned to England after two years in France but continued to visit France for inspiration and artistic fellowship throughout his life. His style is often compared to that of Monet, especially his scenes of summer beach holidays. Despite his revolutionary attempts to bring English art under the influence of Impressionism, he had many critics who condemned him for not applying conventional English style to his work. During World War I he was recruited to capture images related to the Royal Navy. He also offered instruction in art, and taught artist Anna Airy, who became an etcher.

In 1892, novelist George Moore commented, "It is admitted that Mr. Steer takes a foremost place in what is known as the modern movement." Indeed, many of his seascapes were considered the best Impressionist paintings by an Englishman, especially since the entire Impressionist movement was largely overlooked in England, with relatively few artists pursuing the theories and ideas related to the school. He turned mostly to watercolors during the 1920s and taught at the Slade School of Art from 1893 to 1930. In 1931 he was awarded the Order of Merit. Sadly, by 1935 his eyesight had become so weak that he had to cut back on painting, and finally gave it up altogether in 1940.


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