Summer at Cowes

Philip Wilson Steer, 1860 - 1942

Summer at Cowes

Philip Wilson Steer 1860 - 1942


Breezy, Impressionist view of sailing boats at Cowes, two boats with sails unfurled in the centre and to the left, and a small wooden jetty in the foreground to the right, beyond which can be seen rows of moored boats in the background. A coastline of buildings and trees forms the background to the left. In the foreground is a strip of green grass and flowering plants.

Display Label

Channel Crossings English and French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism from the collection of Manchester Art Gallery This display looks at the allure and excitement of French art for a generation of English and Scottish painters emerging from the claustrophobia of late Victorian painting. Breaking with the Classical rigours of the Academy and the Salon, the artists who came to be known as the Impressionists painted naturalistic scenes with loose and quickly applied brushwork to convey the effects of light and the natural colours of shadows which had previously been rendered with blacks and browns. They explored the French countryside where they learned how to paint directly en plein air closely studying the changing effects of the seasons. Making regular visits to or studying in Paris, English and Scottish artists were in turn enthralled by these painterly discoveries. The new method of painting they then applied to the English landscape, to still lifes, portraits and interiors. Painters of the New English Art Club like George Clausen, John Singer Sargent and Philip Wilson Steer combined the subject matter of late Victorian genre scenes with the new style. Works by these artists and others are here shown alongside a few choice examples of French Impressionism from the collection and by the fore-runners of Impressionism; Eugène-Louis Boudin, Charles Daubigny and Johan Jongkind. While the English artists went to France the French painters and their dealers, such as Paul Durand-Ruel, escaped the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 and went to London. Their paintings were seen in England and some were even bought by Manchester collectors. In the Edwardian era newer developments in French art inspired English and Scottish artists on their cross-Channel trips and via a series of influential London exhibitions. The high-keyed colour and bold lines of the Post-Impressionist paintings of Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh were now huge influences on the artists of the Camden Town Group such as Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner. Later still Matthew Smith was to take his inspiration directly from Henri Matisse under whom he studied in Paris.

Object Name

Summer at Cowes

Creators Name

Philip Wilson Steer

Date Created



Canvas: 50.9cm x 61.2cm
frame: 80.5cm x 91cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Presented by Miss M. D. Legge through the National Art Collections Fund


© Manchester Art Gallery

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