Still Life: Flowers

Stella Steyn (1907 - 1987)

Oil on canvas

December 1952

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  • About the work
    Country: Japan
    City: Tokyo
    Place: British Embassy

    Stella Steyn studied in Paris from 1926 to 1931 and the influence of the French painting she encountered there — Impressionism and Post Impressionism — continued to be seen in her work into the 1950s. From the outbreak of war in 1939, she painted little, but in the early 1950s she started to work again and produced a number of still life and flower pieces, of which this work in the Government Art Collection is an example. With its assured brushwork and tonal arrangement it is a good example of Steyn’s distinctly French character. Still life was a favorite subject matter for Steyn and, as with much of her work, this picture evokes a gentle poetic feeling. The semi-spontaneous brushwork, the choice and use of colours suggest an influence from Fauvism, a French art movement characterised by loose brushwork and bold non-naturalistic colours. Despite her preference for French painting, the sparseness in this work may owe something to her training at the Bauhaus, where she studied in 1931 under the tutelage of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Josef Albers. 

  • About the artist
    Born in Dublin in 1907 to Russian and German parents, Steyn was educated at Alexandra College and at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin (now the National College of Art and Design). In 1926 she began studies at La Grande Chaumière, Paris and she remained in the city on and off for the next five years. She enrolled at the Bauhaus in Dessau in 1931, the only Irish artist to study at the radical German school of art and design. Her time at the Bauhaus coincided with political upheaval in Germany and the school was closed by the Nazis in 1933. Steyn, who was Jewish, returned to the UK in 1932 and lived in London from 1938. She exhibited in a number of prestigious mixed shows with the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Royal Academy, the Tate Gallery and other venues in the 1950s. Steyn’s work is held in the Arts Council Collection and other regional museum collections in the UK.
  • Explore
    still life, ivy, petal, flower, jug
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Still Life: Flowers
    December 1952
    Oil on canvas
    height: 70.50 cm, width: 80.00 cm
    Purchased from Leicester Galleries, September 1953
    br: Stella Steyn 52 ; verso, tr: DEC 52
    Consigned by the artist to Leicester Galleries, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in August 1953
    GAC number