Edward Seago RBA, ARWS, RWS (1910-1974)

Low Tide, Honfleur

Signed ‘Edward Seago’; titled on reverse

Oil on board

46 x 61 cm (18.1 x 24 ins)

Edward Seago was born in Norwich in 1910, the son of Francis Seago, a coal merchant and director,  and Mabel, a governess. The landscape of East Anglia was to prove to be the biggest inspiration for his painting throughout his lifetime. At the age of 7 he was diagnosed with a heart condition and this was to cause him problems all his life. It meant that after the age of 13 he did not attend school which allowed him time to draw, a period of his life he later referred to as being ‘spells of sheer delight’. He was self-taught as an artist and aged 14, he won an award from the Royal Drawing Society. Although encouraged otherwise by his parents, it proved to be the turning point in deciding this is what he wanted to do. After writing to the painter Bertram Priestman, whom Seago learned had moved to Walberswick, Priestman agreed to teach him. This was to be the only formal training he ever received. At a later date he also approached the artist Sir Alfred Munnings who dispensed practical advice to Seago. As a young man he was fascinated by the Circus and the life of travellers. From the ages of 18 to 23 Seago joined the Circus and wrote 3 illustrated books on the acts he saw. It was during this time that he had his first painting accepted by the Royal Academy for the Summer Exhibition.

In December 1939, despite his health problems, he enrolled in the Royal Engineers as a Second Lieutenant and developed camouflage. He was invalided out of the Army in 1944 but was invited by Field Marshal Alexander to paint scenes of the Italian campaign as an unofficial war artist. His war pictures were exhibited in 1946 at the Norwich and Bristol Municipal Galleries.

After the war with his life more settled, he concentrated on his landscape paintings, although he is also known for his seascapes, skyscapes, flowers and portraits. He was also an accomplished watercolourist. He is considered to be one of the leading British Post-impressionists.

He continued to travel throughout his life, often sailing in his own yacht, a ketch called Endeavour and later Capricorn, a more seaworthy vessel. This boat was his floating studio. Between 1951 and 1967 he made 8 major trips to France. He would sail out of Yarmouth and up the Seine. En route he would stop and paint in Dieppe and Rouen, amongst other places, plus the estuary town of Honfleur. In his memoirs he mentions his first trip there as a moment he would treasure and how ‘his heart skipped a beat with excitement’. No doubt this was partly down to his admiration of the artist Eugene Boudin who was from the town and an early proponent of the ‘en plein’ method.  Although not dated, it can be safely assumed that this painting, “Low Tide, Honfleur” was painted on one of these post-war overseas journeys.

Seago had a long association with the Royal family, particularly Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who purchased many of his pictures. At the behest of the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1956 he travelled to the Antarctic, South Atlantic and West Africa on board the Royal Yacht Britannia where he adapted his techniques to the unfamiliar surroundings. These paintings, now at Balmoral, are considered to be some of his best works.

From 1946 he was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and from 1959 the Royal Watercolour Society. In 1953 he was made official artist of the Coronation. His first solo exhibitions at Colnaghi’s and Marlborough Fine Art were among the first where people queued.

He died of a brain tumour in 1974.

Frame: 60 x 75 cm