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Inspirational Artists: The English Watercolour - Edward Seago

Edward Seago RBA ARWS RWS (1910 – 1974) was an English artist who painted in both oils and watercolours but is best known for his watercolours. The son of a coal merchant, born in Norwich he attended Norwich School.

Seago was a self-taught artist, and enjoyed a wide range of admirers from the British Royal family and the Aga Khan to the man on the street. His works have been classified as either Impressionist or Post-Impressionist and included landscapes, seascapes, skyscapes, street scenes, his garden and portraits. Although best known for his watercolours like so many he adapted well to oil and I feel that some of his best works are in oil. In fact few years ago Annie and i were at an exhibition and stood admiring a large oil of his and were tempted to buy even though the price was somewhat beyond our pocket. Later i found a singed printers proof of his in a shop near Chichester and toyed with buying it (I didn't quite grasp the signed proof bit then) and hesitated and when i went back it had gone.

Seago's popularity meant that those who wished to buy one of his paintings had to queue at his various annual exhibitions around the world. However, the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother bought so many that eventually the artist, who died in 1974, gave her two a year – on her birthday and at Christmas. Prince Philip invited him on a tour of the Antarctic in 1956, and his subsequent paintings, considered to be among his best, hang at Balmoral. Seago also created the solid silver sculpture of St George slaying the Dragon, which serves as an automobile mascot for any state limousine in which Queen Elizabeth II is travelling. The mascot can be transferred from car to car. When the monarch is not aboard, it is substituted for the symbol of the manufacturer, such as the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy or the Bentley "B".

Seago in his will he requested that one third of his paintings currently in his Norwich studio were to be destroyed. There remain about 19,000 watercolours and 300 oil paintings worldwide. A major retrospective of his work was held in autumn 2008 in London, as was a Sky Arts 2 television series about Seago fronted by Selina Scott.

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