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Wilson Steer, the most Impressionist of British painters, was devoted to painting the young female nude. For his grander paintings he preferred this subject to his more usual landscape. Steer's young women were always posed in a believable setting, and here the model is playfully trying on a hat she has found in the studio. Steer did not exhibit this sketch, and it was chosen for the Gallery directly from his studio in 1941, by the then Director Sir John Rothenstein. Steer told him 'friends told me it was spoiled by the hat; they thought it indecent that a nude should be wearing a hat, so it's never been shown'.

August 2004