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Painter, draughtsman, designer and printmaker, born in Dublin, Ireland. The family of her father, a dentist, was of Russian origin. Stella was at Alexandra College until 1924, when, aged 16, she started at the Metropolitan School of Art. Her teacher, Patrick Tuohy, encouraged her first visit to Paris, in 1926, and for the next five years she divided her time between the two capitals, studying at Académie Scandinave and at L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Through Tuohy Steyn met James Joyce, producing etchings to illustrate Finnegans Wake, published in Transition in 1929. Next Steyn studied in Germany, at Stuttgart and at the Bauhaus, Dessau, 1931–2, going there with a personal recommendation to Kandinsky. Although she did some typography-oriented work in the Bauhaus style, the school “made a very dreary impression” on her and she eventually reverted to the painterly precepts of the School of Paris (the British Museum holds some of Steyn’s experimental Bauhaus lithographs).

Text source: 'Artists in Britain Since 1945' by David Buckman (Art Dictionaries Ltd, part of Sansom & Company)

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