Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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STEEGMAN , JOHN EDWARD HORATIO ( 1899 - 1966 ), author of books on art and architecture ;

b. 10 Dec. 1899 near Brentford , the elder son of E.J. Steegman , a naval doctor , and his wife Mabel (née Barnet ) . He was educated at Clifton College and King's College , Cambridge , where he graduated M.A. He was a cadet-officer in 1918 and a reporter for a short time before being appointed in 1925 as a lecturer and guide at the National Portrait Gallery in London ; he was an assistant keeper there from 1929 to 1945 . He was seconded to the British Council to work in Spain , Portugal , Iceland and Palestine during World War II . He settled in Cardiff after his appointment as Keeper of the department of art at the National Museum of Wales in 1945 . He left in 1952 to become head of the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal , Canada , where he remained until 1959 . He was visiting professor at the University of Chicago in 1950 . After his retirement he was in much demand as a lecturer in Europe , the Middle East , U.S.A. , Canada , Australia and New Zealand .

During his period at the National Museum the department of art became an important centre for the study of the work of Richard Wilson ( DWB , 1087-8) , and he gave encouragement to contemporary art in Wales . Before leaving the Museum he compiled a catalogue of the Gwendoline Davies (see above) bequest. He came to Wales as a specialist on British portraiture and his main contribution to the Museum was his survey of portraits in Welsh houses . His Survey of portraits in North Wales houses ( 1955 ) was published after he had left Wales ; the survey of south Wales was completed by R.L. Charles and published in 1961 . He published a number of articles and other books on art, including Hours in the National Portrait Gallery ( 1928 ) and The artist and the country house ( 1949 ). He himself was a watercolourist , and his only brother Philip was a portrait painter . He was unmarried and returned to live at 9 Sloane Gardens , London , but d. in Coffinswell , Devon , on 15 April 1966 . He received the O.B.E. in 1952 .

Sources:

  • Who was who? ;
  • information from A. D. Fraser Jenkins .

Author:

Evan David Jones, F.S.A., (1903-87), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001