E Steele, Water Colour And Gouache Painting. Is this Painting authentic or a copy?


Steele, Edwin, born 1803 – died 1871 (painter (artist)

There is another Edwin Steele, but this one was the son of this painter. Edwin J. Steele who was born in 1861 in Stoke on Trent. He died in Birmingham in 1933.

Edwin Steele was a painter at this Rockingham china and porcelain patter book, and his father, Thomas Steele was a painter at the same factory before his son. 

E Steele is known as a painter of fruit and flowers, although there are some landscapes listed. He was quite a prolific painter, although he did not appear to exhibit, as there are no biographical details listed in our reference books, which are drawn from exhibition records.

I reckon this painting is authentic because there isn’t any indication telling me otherwise. I have acquired many prints and one learns to distinguish between a copy and an authentic painting.

In England and France, when it is a copy, most paintings have a copyright stamp of the company where the copy was reproduced. Also the colour of the painting is too good for being a copy. In this watercolour and gouache painting, there is nothing telling me the same is a reproduction.

In some parts of the painting I can feel the brush strokes, when I pass over it with my fingers. In particular over the waves beside the boats.

An Art house with whom I entered in contact with, told me that the painting should be from Elvic Steele and not Edwin Steele, as according to this person the painting is modern.  The same person also claimed never to have seen a marine painting by E Steele.

However, these boats seen on the painting, were used in Brighton in 1824.

So the painting is not modern at all, but very old. It is ca 200 years old. I found these boats in a Constable book, written by Michael Rosenthal. Besides, Elvic Steele’s signature, is a completely different one.

I have bought this painting in “heart foundation” store in Islington, London.

Can you please help me to ascertain if the painting is authentic or a copy?

I am including herewith the Painter’s Signature. 

I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks beforehand.


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Answers ( 19 )

  1. Welcome to the forum!

    It is nice to see that you have done some research on your own.

    I have some comments to your text: Reproduction is a more accurate term than “a copy”. A lithographic reproduction can have colours just as fresh as a watercolour. In a lithograph the colours are also applied one at a time, and sometimes on top of each other, so you might also feel differences in the surface of a lithograph. A copyright stamp is mostly used with large, commercial editions.

    “Authentic” is a term you would mostly use in connection with an artist name (an authentic Picasso versus a copy after Picasso, or a forgery). When separating a watercolour from a reproduction, “original” is a better term.

    That being said, your painting seems to be a watercolour, because it has some paint smudge at the upper right edge; that would have been cut off in a reproduction.

    Concerning the boats, I see only one ship having a mast with three sails, and I can’t see if it has two masts, as in your picture from 1824. But that this type of ship was in use in 1824 doesn’t mean that it could not be in use a hundred years later. Furthermore, along this ship there are two boats (probably tugboats) with funnels, seemingly emitting black diesel smoke, so that would place it after 1912.

    The colours and technique looks 20th century to me, but, like you, I don’t think Elvic Steele is a good candidate to the authorship. He had a very different style and subjects!

    My conclusions is that it is an unknown artist signing E. Steele.


  2. Sorry Vietato, I don’t agree with you.

    Why would anybody in the XX century, be preoccupied in  a Marine painting, and use the signature of E Steele? When an Art House told me there isn’t  any painting by this Artist on that subject. If you show me exactly the same painting by E Steele, but in better condition, I can believe you. Otherwise, I still feel it belongs to E Steeele and it is 200 years old.

    Besides, the painting is too good, for a true painter not to use his own name, but that of another painter. Why wouldn’t he use his own name? Like Gustave Klimt or Picasso.

    For instance I have a fantastic reproduction made in Paris by a painter name Vong of a Cezanne painting, on the back of the painting is written too how many he has reproduced.

    Nevertheless, the colour has almost faded, and it is difficult to ascertain the name of the person who reproduced it and how many he did. And it was Sothebys who told me it is a reproduction. I could believe it is not original, because I saw exactly the same painting in a Museum in Russia.

    Yes, the boats could be used 100 years later after his death, but it is not a plausible answer.

    Furthermore, paintings by E Steele worth very little, for someone to be interested in reproducing them.

  3. I haven’t tried to find signatures by Edwin Steele, but this is not a very significant signature.

    Steele is not an uncommon name, so this is most likely the true name of the artist. He is not stealing the name of a 19th century painter who painted quite different subjects. And I believe it is a watercolour, an original work, as I wrote.


  4. Viteato, I saw an extremely close signature of the painting I have in the “findartinfo.co.uk website, where I paid for obtaining it. It was there I found out, that the painting couldn’t be from Elvic Steele, but it belonged to E Steele. I paid $4.49 for a day use of the site.


    Viteato, the first signature is very close to mine. There is even the point at the end. Of course the S is a little bit different. But the rest of the word is exactly the same. However there is a reason for that. Who know if it was his first painting, and the material he had didn’t allow him to do the S as in another painting. I don’t always write the letters the same way, it depends the pen I am writing with.

  5. On FindArtInfo there are no data on this E. Steele, so they don’t know who he is.
    Didn’t you look at the signatures for Edwin Steele, who you presume has painted the watercolour?

  6. Here you have the Signature I am talking about. I mean the top one. There is also the point at the end. If you see what I mean.

    E STEELE’S (SENIOR) Signatures

  7. Viteato, they have to know, because the picture I am sending you here, was taken there. I have more pictures of E Steele paintings, taken from there. So you are not completely aware of what findartinfo.com have of every single painter. I looked for him under the letter “S”. If you go there, you will see that Elvic’s Steele signature is a completely different one. No shadow of a doubt this painting doesn’t belong to her. She wouldn’t ever sign a painting with the name of her probably ancestor. I am sure she was sure her Paintings were good enough and she didn’t need to copy anyone else.

  8. What I meant was that the painter E. Steele for which you have two signatures is not identified. The E. stands for something.
    There is no birth or death date, nor is there a place of birth.

    The signatures are from two of these sales, and the auction houses have sold the paintings as by E. Steele, when they might have been in doubt if it was one of the Edwin Steeles or yet another person.

    Anyway, the subject matter and medium of your artwork does not comply with neither this E. Steele nor Edwin Steele. And then there are the tug boats.

    Experts in auction houses like Bonham’s or Christie’s can tell you by looking at the paper if the watercolour is 19th or 20th century.

    I rest my case.

  9. Viteato, I have also taken from the find Art Information the signature of Elvic Steele. You can see here that her signature is a completely different one, than the one of E Steele.

    Elvic Steele was a “woman” painter and not a man. She painted really well too!

  10. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O8090/rhinoceros-vase-vase-and-cover-steele-edwin/

    Viteato at this address you have exactly the date E Steele was born and when he died. His father worked in the same place as E Steele, and his name was Thomas Steele.

    I would like to add that Edwin J. Steele who was born in 1861 in Stoke on Trent and who died in 1933 in Birmingham was his son. His signature is a completely different one from E Steele. I also saw his signature in the Find Art Information website.

    Image result for When were Tug boats invented?
    The first tugboat actually built was the Charlotte Dundas, powered by a Watt engine and paddle wheel and used on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Scotland. Screw propulsion for tugboats was introduced in the United States about 1850, the diesel engine about 50 years later.

    E Steele died in 1870. Tug boats had been invented 20 years before.


  11. Edwin’s Steele son, born in 1939 and died in Birmingham on 2 December 1919. You can see his signature is a completely different one. He was a very good painter too.

  12. This Steam Ship was seen in the river Thames in 1840. Pretty black was her smoke from the burning coal. Steamers (and diesel engined ships) were famous for dropping splodges of exhaust carbon over the decks. She is quite a famous vessel because of her innovative screw propeller. Brunel borrowed her when he was building SS Great Britain, which also had screw propulsion, and the navy built HMS Rattler on the basis of Archimedes success. Mechanical issues were the norm for engined vessels at that time, and Archimedes blew up her boiler on the maiden voyage, and broke a crankshaft soon after. She finished her career as a sailing ship, the machinery being removed around 1847.

  13. This is part of the Archimedes machinery.

  14. Dave Waller ([email protected]) To: [email protected] Date: Friday, 8 November 2019, 16:57 GMT

    Hello again Maria I can’t really comment on which E Steele you are looking for but I have found a photo of a tug built in 1870 that is similar to that shown on your picture. I am NOT suggesting that this is the tug but that similar tugs would have been built around that time. Many tugs earlier than this would have been driven by paddle wheels, one on each side of the tug, whereas this one is driven by a screw propeller at the stern. If you were looking for 1860 as the date then there would have been very few screw tugs around. I hope that this helps. Best regards Dave

    Edwin Steele, died in 1871, so could very well been the author of this painting as I always said.

  15. Today 1 January 2020 on findartinf.com I found an even closer match to the signature of this painting. I am therefore adding it here. On this site it is written E Steele 1803 to 1871.

  16. E STEELE’S (SENIOR) signature as well.

  17. I am adding more information about this painter that I have learned recently.

    Edwin Steele was a painter and enameller at the Rockingham China and porcelain factory between the years 1803 – 1871. He is the son of Thomas Steel who was also an artist at the factory before his son.

    Thomas Steel moved back to Staffordshire to work at the Minton factory, taking his son with him and they lived in Stoke on Trent.

    His wife was Charlotte Steele, formerly “Laban”. Charlotte was from Derby, Derbyshire. Edwin Steele married Charlotte Laban in 1826 in Derby.

    In 1839 Edwin Steele had a son, also called Edwin Steele, who was born in Shelton, Staffordshire. He was also an artist. He painted flowers and fruits on Canvas. He was working on his own account.

    Edwin Steele’s son, Edwin, married to Elizabeth Steele, formerly Walker, and in 1861 had a son called Edward James Steele. Edward James Steele was also a China painter.

    I can therefore conclude that the painters in this family, which most people know better, are Edwin’s father and son.

    Edward James Steele, was a good painter, but there aren’t many works known by him. On find art information website, I only saw two. His signature was very different too, from his father and grand-father.

    You can see the different signatures for the father,son and grandson, on http://www.findartinfo.com, by paying more a less $5.00. Edwin Steele’s Junior, not always wrote the same way the letters of his signatures, on the paintings he painted. Very likely all other painters are similar to him.

    Teresa Coutinho

  18. New information has come to light about EDWIN STEELE’S (SENIOR) descendants.

    E. STEELE (SENIOR 1803/1805 TO 1871) DESCENDANTS.

    I have recently acquired the death’s certificate of Edwin STEELE (JUNIOR), who was in born in 1839 and died on 2 December 1919. His son, Edward James STEELE, is the one who acknowledged his death. He was 80 years old then.

    Here is the Death Certificate of Edwin Steele (JUNIOR):


    He is the author of the paintings which have a date on them. The paintings are mostly depicting flowers and fruits. I was able to find out the year of the Artist’s death, because I read what follows on a website: As there are quite a few paintings shown on these sites with dates post 1900, the most recent being 1918.

    There is a misunderstanding that his paintings belong to his son Edward James STEELE. In fact his son E James STEELE died in Birmingham as well, but in 1933.

    I also have acquire the birth certificate of Edward James STEELE, so everyone knows his name is “EDWARD JAMES” and not EDWIN JAMES, as most people think.

    Here it is the birth certificate of Edward James STEELE:


    Edward James Steele was born in 1861 and died in 1933.

    Besides, E STEELE’s (JUNIOR)signature, is very different to the one of his father E STEELE(SENIOR) and the one of his son Edward James STEELE.

    Furthermore, you can see what I mean by visiting this website here below, under artists signatures:


    On this website above sited, you have the signtures, of E STEELE (SENIOR), E STEELE (JUNIOR), Edward James (STEELE) and Elvic STEELE. You can see clearly what I mean.

    I would like to add more information about this Artist, which was given to me by the Minton Pottery, where the E STEELE (SENIOR) and his family worked:




    Teresa Coutinho

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