STEER Philip Wilson
( 1860-1942). English painter born in Birkenhead. After studying at the Gloucester School of Art .and then, in Paris, at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts, Steer was one of the founders of the New English Art Club. Between 1893 and 1930 he taught painting at the Slade School of Art in London. As a landscapist and, occasionally, a portraitist, Steer was a leading figure, along with Sickert, in the English Impressionist movement. Although he was strongly influenced by Whistler, Manet, and Monet, his first 'manner' has an authentically poetic quality and a sufficiently individual style so that one of his canvases of the period stands out at once from the work of his predecessors or contemporaries. That style is characterized by a sharp emphasis on line and a nervous construction which might seem, at first glance, to be the result of naïve or facile simplification. Those qualities were, on the contrary, achieved through an accomplished mastery of draughtsmanship and a carefully worked out synthesis. His style developed slowly and became fuller, freer and more sensuous, particularly so in his nudes, where the paint has a heavy, unctuous quality. In his landscapes can be seen the influence of Constable and Gainsborough, and in his figure compositions one sometimes notes motifs drawn from Fragonard and Boucher. Toward the end of his career he worked at a series of paintings thinner in texture and whose lyrical quality recalls Turner. By then he was into his seventies and his sight was failing. Up until then, however, he played a leading role in the London art world. He was awarded the Order of Merit, the highest distinction available to a British artist. The Tate Gallery has a wide selection of his works from all periods.
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