Ten important works by Edward Seago to go up for auction at Dreweatts
LONDON.- Sailing or history aficionados will be delighted to hear that a magnificent painting of the Cutty Sark, by the celebrated artist Edward Seago (1910-1974), is one of ten works by the artist to be offered at auction in March. The spectacular painting in oil on canvas is one of several that Seago painted of the clipper, in its dry dock at Greenwich, London, demonstrating his ongoing fascination of the river and shipping. It is estimated to fetch £5,000-8,000 when it goes under the hammer in Dreweatts Modern & Contemporary Art sale on March 18, 2021.
The works (lots 106-115 in the sale), include drawings, watercolours and oil paintings, showcasing the full breadth and diversity of his oeuvre. From an early equestrian work inspired by his mentor, Sir Alfred Munnings, to his later quintessential views of the coastline of his beloved Norfolk, plus a range of works created on foreign trips, they are set to be a focal point of the Modern & Contemporary Art sale.
Commenting on the works, Dreweatts specialist Brandon Lindberg, said: “Edward Seago was one of the most popular English landscape artists of the 20th century and we are thrilled to be offering such a wonderful range.”
Born in Norwich in Norfolk, Seago spent the first 21 years of his life there and would return for visits even after he left, finally settling back in East Anglia after WWII. He was passionate about the region and lived in the 17th Century ‘Dutch House’ in Ludham, Norfolk, where he produced his mesmerizing landscapes of the coastline.
Due to regular bouts of illness as a child which continued as he grew up, Seago had spent many periods of his life convalescing, which prevented him from having any formal art training. It did however give him the time to observe nature and subjects and to practise capturing them.
He was lucky enough to catch the attention of several leading artists of the day, who became mentors to him. One such artist was Sir Alfred Munnings, who was to influence Seago’s work throughout his artistic career. Others included Bertram Priestman and John Masefield.
As a young artist he lived a bohemian lifestyle, living and travelling with gypsies, ballet dancers and theatrical characters, which he captured so well on canvas. Gypsy Encampment is an early work that Seago created in the late 1920s, when gypsies set up camp near his family home in Brooke, outside Norwich. Curious, as many were at the time, about the gypsies’ bohemian, nomadic life and brightly coloured attire and caravans, they became the subject of a series of drawings and he included several oils in his first solo exhibition in 1929. The work is estimated to fetch £1,500-2,000.
Horses in a Norfolk Landscape was created in 1928, when the artist was 18. Munnings’ influence can clearly be seen in the work, which alludes to his Ringland Hills paintings, created on the outskirts of Norwich before the First World War. It is estimated to fetch £8,000-12,000.
As Seago matured as an artist, he developed his own unique style. Capturing coastal landscapes at low tide became a consistent topic in his work. This afforded him the opportunity to explore the ever-changing light as the tide comes in and out and reflects on the sand, water and surrounding landscape.
Seago was popular across the board and mixed with a range of people including aristocrats, who regularly commissioned works. One such aristocrat was Henry Mond, 2nd Lord Melchett, an art connoisseur, friend and patron of Seago. They travelled to Venice together in 1933, where Seago had his first introduction to the great Italian Master Painters, who inspired many of his watercolours and oil paintings.
During WWII Seago became an unofficial war artist. He spent five years as a camouflage artist and when he was invalided out of service, he complained about the artistic restrictions he’d faced. This led to an invitation to Italy from General Alexander, to paint according to his preference. He was transfixed by the Italian landscape and created It many significant works on the trip. It was also here that he met George VI and his link to the Royal family grew stronger. After the war he formed a friendship with Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood, which led to further introductions to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Queen Mary, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles, who adored and collected his works.
With society rebuilding after the war Seago’s works took on a more stable approach too and he focused on creating landscapes of his beloved East Anglia. He was passionate about the human and natural history of the area and set out to create it on canvas.
He later developed a language of motifs throughout his work and travelled abroad to experience varying ranges of colour and textures, as well as light, which would become a central theme alongside shapes and forms.
Landscape at Martham, Norfolk is believed to be ‘quintessentially Seago’, as the majestic cloudscape forms a canopy over the extensive landscape and the large tree in the foreground leads the eye to the sunlit pantile roofs of the cottages in the middle distance. The work in oil is estimated to fetch £20,000-30,000.