Philip Wilson Steer

A Procession of Yachts


Not on display

Philip Wilson Steer 1860–1942
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 629 × 762 mm
frame: 783 × 920 × 58 mm
Purchased 1922

Display caption

Wilson Steer was trained in France in the 1880s and 1890s, and he experimented with a range of Impressionist techniques. He exhibited his work at the Paris Salon, but in London his Impressionist pictures were greeted with vicious howls of critical scorn. This picture was begun at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The bright dashes of colour were inspired by the work of the French 'Divisionist' artists, Seurat and Pissarro, who made similar paintings of yachts in profile. Later Steer turned away from his French heroes and started to paint in the manner of Turner and Constable.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Steer 93.’ b.l.
Canvas, 24 3/4×30 (63×76).
Purchased from Miss Jane Ellen Harrison (Clarke Fund) 1922.
Coll: Purchased by Miss Harrison from the artist 1893.
Exh: N.E.A.C., November 1892 (96); Goupil Gallery, February–March 1894 (15); Tate Gallery, April–July 1929 (10).
Lit: MacColl, 1945, pp.37, 46, 193, repr. pl.18b.
Repr: Artwork, No.17, 1929, p.4.

Painted while the artist was on a vist to Cowes in the summer of 1892. The composition appears in the background of Augustus John's portrait of Miss Harrison painted in 1909 for Newnham College, Cambridge, where she lectured on classical archaeology and later Russian from 1898 until 1922. Although signed and dated 1893 this is the painting recorded by MacColl (op. cit., p.193) as that exhibited at the N.E.A.C., 1892, but there is evidence of considerable reworking by the artist, presumably in the winter of 1892–3. Another painting, ‘A Yacht Race’, 24×30 in., exhibited at the N.E.A.C., April 1893 (54), was purchased in 1897 by the Art Gallery of Western Australia on the advice of Sir George Clausen. This is an entirely different composition showing yachts strung out diagonally across the picture.

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

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