STEER, Philip Wilson
(b. 1860, Birkenhead, d. 1942, London)

Young Woman on the Beach, Walbeerswick

Oil on canvas, 126 x 92 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Whistler's followers included Theodore Roussel, Paul Maitland, Walter Richard Sickert and the young Philip Wilson Steer - that is, the artists widely considered the leading British Impressionists. With Sidney Starr they split off from the New English Art Club. This sub-group used the label London Impressionists. The driving force was Sickert who outlined the task facing British Impressionism: to record the magic and poesy that lay all around in everyday life. London, the great metropolis, provided all the stimulating subject-matter that was necessary.

Like many other English painter of his generation, Philip Wilson Steer, who enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1882, was initially under the sway of Bastien-Lepage. back in England, he settled in London, and from 1884 tended to paint at Walberswick on the Suffolk coast. There he painted the present canvas and similar fresh, outstanding pictures, which he showed at the first London Impressionists exhibition. The fluid style echoed Whistler, while Steer's pastose brushwork (or, indeed, palette knife work) sometimes recalled Courbet or Manet.