The Christmas Waites

24/12/2018

It is always worth looking again at this painting of the High Cross in Leicester on Christmas Eve by Henry Reynolds Steer (1858-1928).   Wonderful atmosphere and a glimpse of the very heart of the town at a special time of the year.

Steer was a landscape and genre painter and watercolourist.  He was born in London but many of his paintings are of locations in the Midlands.  At the beginning of his career he was an illustrator and lithographer. He then turned to painting in oils and then watercolours. Steer mostly painted literary and historical genre, especially scenes from Dickens, Sheriden and Pepys.

He was elected member of the Royal Institute in 1884. He exhibited widely, at the Royal Academy,  the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Hibernian Academy,  the Royal Institute and the Royal Institute of Oil Panters, and in art galleries in Manchester, Leicester and Birmingham.

Here he presents the Highcross market cross in the sixteenth century.   The surviving remnant of the cross is to be seen today at the junction of High Street and Highcross Street, less than 100 metres from its original location.

The painting is in the Art Gallery in New Walk Museum, Leicester.  It was purchased by the Museum Service at auction in November 1997.