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Steer made many visits to Walberswick in Suffolk, where he had friends. He completed a number of paintings of the beach there that are among the most authentically Impressionist works produced in Britain. Here he captures the rich warmth of late afternoon sunlight but, unlike the French Impressionist Monet, he was just as interested in the figures as in their setting. Steer has reworked the dashed, broken colour of the paint surface extensively. The two girls were originally holding hands, and in their shadow they still are. This kind of picture was seen as uncompromisingly avant-garde. One critic in 1892 even described such works at the New English Art Club exhibition as 'evil'.

September 2004