Philip Wilson Steer (Biographical details)

Philip Wilson Steer (painter/draughtsman; British; Male; 1860 - 1942)

Also known as

Steer, Philip Wilson


Painter. Born in Birkenhead (Merseyside, England) on 28 December 1860, third son of painter and teacher Philip Steer. Studied at Gloucester School of Art (1878 to 1880) and Drawing Schools of the Department of Science and Art, South Kensington (1881). Left for France after being rejected by the Royal Academy Schools and studied in Paris at Académie Julian (1882-1883) and Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1883). Returned to England in 1884, bought studio (Trafalgar Studio) in Manresa Road, Chelsea and began life-long summer painting expeditions through English countryside. Exhibited at Royal Academy from 1883-1886. Founding member of New English Art Club (1886). In 1889, allied himself with friend Walter Sickert, and participated in the 'London impressionists' exhibition at the Goupil Gallery (London). Teacher of painting at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1893-1930. In 1894 had his first solo exhibition at the Goupil Art Gallery. Moved to 'Avenue Studios', Fulham Road in 1894. In 1898, settled in Cheyne Walk (Chelsea) where he remained until his death. Appointed Official War Artist in 1918 where he served with the Royal Navy. During Inter-War period he pursued his interest in watercolours and produced the famous 'Mrs Raynes' (1922, Tate Collection). Exhibition of his work at the Tate Gallery in 1929, the first major retrospective of a living artist. Awarded the Medal of Merit in 1931. His blindness put a stop to his summer sketching expeditions in 1938 and on 18 March 1942 he died of bronchitis. Memorial exhibitions include National Gallery (1943) and Temple Newsam, Leeds (1944).
Note: A long wooden box containing a card index cataloguing Philip Wilson Steer's work is kept in the library/archives of the Prints and Drawings Department of the Museum (currently, 2017, at Blythe House, appointment needed). Compiled by the artist himself, it consists of a list of all his works, from watercolours to oils. Catalogued by medium and title, the index cards include the following information: title, date, detailed description, acquisition and exhibition.


D.S. MacColl. 'The Life Work and Setting of Philip Wilson Steer' (London, 1945); Bruce Laughton, 'Philip Wilson Steer, 1860-1942', Oxford, 1971; 'Philip Wilson Steer 1860-1942, Paintings and Watercolours', exh. cat., Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1986. Philip Wilson Steer's own card index catalogue of his works (P&D archives/library: see note in biography).