Peter Sterne Stevens was born March 27, 1920 in Cardiff, England. His mother was Myvanwy Stevens, a Welsh artist, who had returned home to Wales to be with her family during the birth. His father was Lawrence Sterne Stevens, an ex-patriot American WWI veteran, who had studied art in Europe and had remained there to work as an illustrator.
Peter Stevens was educated in Belgium and Geneva, while his father worked as a designer for the General Motors Company in Brussels and Antwerp. In 1932 at age twelve he routinely traveled by cablecar up to his school overlooking Lake Geneva.
In 1937 at age seventeen he visited America by himself. He traveled around the country and fell in love with his father's ancestral homeland.
In 1939 he studied under Sir Walter Russell at the Royal Academy of Art in London, where he met another young art student, Diana, whose family lived in Nairobi, British East Africa (Kenya).
In 1939 Germany invaded Poland and war was declared, so the Stevens family returned to America. In 1940 they moved to Greenwich Village in New York City and lived at 116 Waverly Place. Diana was able to join him in New York where they were married in 1940.
His first professional art assignments were commissioned portraits.
In 1942 Peter Stevens joined the U. S. Army and taught camouflage at the Army Air Force Training Base (Eastern Overseas Replacement Depot) in Greensboro, North Carolina. Diana Stevens joined the Womens Army Corps (WACs) and worked as a secretary for a four-star general at the Pentagon.
In 1943 he sold freelance pulp covers to Popular Publication's magazine Argosy. It is remarkable that at that same time, his father also began to sell interior story illustration to the same magazine under the pseudonym, "Lawrence."
After the war he moved to South Norwalk, Connecticut, and continued to paint covers for Popular Publications pulp magazines, such as Adventure and Black Mask.
In 1948 Diana and Peter Stevens had a daughter, Gillian, and their son, Brandon, was born in 1950.
In 1952 he joined the American Artist agency began to work for slick magazines, such as The American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Liberty, McCall's, Redbook, and The Saturday Evening Post.
In 1953 the family moved to a nineteen-acre farm in Lewisboro, New York, in Westchester County. His father and mother came to live with them in a three-story cottage attached to the farmhouse.
In 1960 his father died at age seventy-six.
By 1961 the trend in magazine design was turning away from clasic illustration, just as his portrait commissions were growing more successful. He was represented by Portraits Incorporated of New York City with a steady stream of significant clients.
In 1963 the family moved to Block Island, Rhode Island, where they lived in a new home that was hand-built by the artist.
He painted the portraits of several speakers of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and supreme court justices of various states. In 1979 He painted the official portrait of the 72nd U.S. Attorney General, Griffin Bell.
In 1988 the Stevens family moved to Florida, and settled in St. Petersburg in 1997.
Peter Stevens died from cancer at age eighty-one on December 4, 2001.
© David Saunders 2009