Philip Wilson Steer

Southwold

c.1889

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 505 x 610 mm
frame: 715 x 815 x 65 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1942
Reference
N05374

Display caption

Steer spent several summers on the East Coast, at Walberswick and Southwold in Suffolk, making pictures of holidaymakers in the sun. He made rough notes on the spot in sketchbooks, and in the studio made designs for a series of paintings. These were most original in their dislocation of the figures, and their shorthand sketchy outlines. The colours have a brilliance that went beyond the Impressionist paintings of Monet that Steer had seen in London. Although they look spontaneous, most of them took several years to complete.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N05374 SOUTHWOLD c. 1889

Not inscribed.
Canvas, 20×24 (51×61).
Purchased from Christie's (Knapping Fund) 1942.
Coll: Steer Sale, Christie's, 16 July 1942 (148), bt. Nicholson for the Tate Gallery.
Exh: National Gallery, June–August 1943 (65).
Lit: MacColl, 1945, p.189; John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters: Sickert to Smith, 1952, pp.64–5.
Repr: Studio, CXXVII, 1944, p.150.

A signed and dated (1887) work ‘At Southwold’ was exhibited at the National Gallery in 1943 (67) as ‘On the Cliffs’, but N05374 seems related stylistically to ‘Boulogne Sands’ of 1888–91 (N05439) and ‘Girls Running: Walberswick Pier’ of 1888–94 (N06008), and should perhaps be placed c. 1889. This dating is supported by a sketch for the three seated figures on p.68 of a sketchbook in the V. & A. (E.275) which the artist used mostly on the Walberswick-Southwold coast about 1888–9 (information from Bruce Laughton). Southwold lies across the river from Walberswick on the East Anglian coast.

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

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