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    Sale 6907

    20th Century British Art

    4 June 2004, London, King Street

  • Lot 11

    Philip Wilson Steer, O.M. (1860-1942)

    Fisher Children, Étaples

    Price Realised  


    Philip Wilson Steer, O.M. (1860-1942)
    Fisher Children, Étaples
    oil on canvas
    18¼ x 24¾ in. (46.4 x 62.2 cm.)
    Painted in 1887.

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    Bruce Laughton comments that the present work is, 'painted in luminous colours, modulated on a limited scale of pink, cerulean-blue, black and cream. The paint is applied thinly and broadly, and convincingly relates to the artist's visual sensations on the spot. The figures are placed against the light, silhouetted against a wide expanse of beach and water' (see B. Laughton, op. cit., p. 11).

    Andrew Forge discusses the Étaples pictures in the 1960 Arts Council Exhibition catalogue, 'However scanty Steer's contacts with French painting the fact remains that he was soon producing pictures of an extraordinary precocity. The Étaples pictures of the summer of 1887, although they owe a great deal to Whistler and through him to the Japanese, strike an entirely original note ... with extreme economy and self-conscious and slightly mannered drawing on the flat, to anticipate Nabi painting of ten years later' (see 1960 Exhibition catalogue, p. 7). The present work, and it's companion picture Fisher Children, Étaples (private collection, London), are discussed in the 1986 Arts Council exhibition catalogue, 'it is painted in pale tones, laid on in wide bands of thin colour, with touches of creamy impasto to indicate the breaking surf. This slightness of handling points to the influence of Whistler, whose work Steer could have known from as early as 1878-9, and from a series of major exhibitions held in London and Paris between 1883 and 1886. Further stimulus may have come from his close contact with Sickert in 1885-6, who, though beginning to show the influence of Degas in his work, still declared himself to be a pupil of Whistler. The restricted range of soft colours, brilliant intuitive balance of compositional elements, and a fluency of handling perfectly convey the mood of late summer afternoon' (see Exhibition catlogue, Arts Council of Great Britain, Philip Wilson Steer, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1986, pp. 30-31).

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    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis


    Philip Wilson Steer, O.M. (+) Studio Sale; Christie's, London, 16 July 1942, lot 161A, where purchased by R.W. Lloyd and by descent to Angus Lloyd.
    with Browse and Darby, London, where purchased by the present owner in 1984.


    D.S. MacColl, Life Work and Setting of Philip Wilson Steer, London, 1945, p. 189.
    B. Laughton, Philip Wilson Steer 1860-1942, Oxford, 1971, p. 128, no. 30, pl. 16.


    London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Tate Gallery, Philip Wilson Steer, November - December 1960, no. 6: this exhibition toured to Birmingham, City Art Gallery, December 1960 - January 1961; Birkenhead, Williamson Art Gallery, January - February 1961; Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, February - March 1961; Manchester, City Art Gallery, March - April 1961; Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, April - May 1961; and Glasgow, Art Gallery and Museum, May - June 1961.
    London, Browse and Darby, Philip Wilson Steer, October - November 1985, no. 2.