Philip Wilson Steer

Boulogne Sands

1888–91

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 610 x 765 mm
frame: 910 x 1058 x 74 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Art Fund 1943
Reference
N05439

Display caption

In the early 1880s Steer studied in Paris, where he encountered the work of the French impressionists. After his return to England in 1884, he painted a series of luminous and brightly coloured coastal views which relate to Monet’s paintings of the same period. The loose brushwork and sparkling colours brilliantly capture the transience and exhilaration of childhood and summer vacations. His use of strongly contrasting colours draws on theories being promoted by the most avant-garde painters in France at this time.

Gallery label, November 2016

Catalogue entry

N05439 BOULOGNE SANDS 1888–91

Inscr. ‘P. W. Steer 92.’ b.l.
Canvas, 24×30 1/8 (61×76·5).
Presented by the National Art-Collections Fund 1943.
Coll: Purchased from the N.E.A.C. exhibition by Professor Fred Brown; Miss Ellen Brown by 1941, from whom it was acquired by the N.A.C.F.
Exh: N.E.A.C., November 1892 (8); Goupil Gallery, February 1894 (32); Barbizon House, May 1927 (30); Tate Gallery, April–July 1929 (15).
Lit: MacColl, 1945, pp.45–6, 192; John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, 1952, pp.65–6.
Repr: Artwork, No.17, 1929, p.4; Ironside, 1943, pl.15; MacColl, 1945, pl.18a.

A sketchbook in the V. & A. (E. 281) has a number of studies of children playing on the beach relating to both N05439 and an oil in the collection of Major Nicholas Daniel (repr. Ironside, 1943, pl.4) which once had the same title. On p. 76 of the sketchbook the group of figures in N05439 is adapted to fit a lunette shape. The sketchbook is inscribed ‘Boulogne [1889?-deleted] 1888’ and internal evidence supports this dating. The Tate painting may have been begun in 1888 and continued on Steer's second visit to Boulogne in 1891. (Information from Bruce Laughton.)

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II