One of Britain’s best loved and most widely collected twentieth-century artists, Edward Seago painted fresh and vigorous oils and watercolours of a variety of subjects, including portraits and, especially, landscapes. The son of a coal merchant, Edward Seago was born in Norwich, Norfolk on 31 January 1910. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School and South Lodge Preparatory School in Lowestoft, but childhood illness meant that his schooling was frequently broken. As a result, he spent much time painting scenes from his bedroom window. Though given little encouragement by his parents, he received advice on art from Alfred Munnings and some instruction from Bernard Priestman. At the age of 14, he won a special prize from the Royal Drawing Society.
About the age of 18, Seago joined Bevin’s Travelling Show, and subsequently spent much time touring with circuses across Europe.
He recorded these experiences in books and included a number of the illustrations in his first London solo show at the Sporting Gallery. In 1936, some 42 of his paintings were used to accompany John Masefield’s poems in The Country Scene, and he later worked with Masefield on Tribute to the Ballet (1937) and A Generation Risen (1942).
During the Second World War, Seago served with the Royal Engineers (1939-44) and spent much of his time in Italy painting with Field-Marshal Lord Alexander. An exhibition of his war paintings at Colnaghi’s, in 1946, instigated a series of solo shows with that dealer. He enjoyed unprecedented success, with queues forming outside the gallery long before the doors opened: every exhibition sold out within an hour of opening. In addition, he submitted work regularly to exhibiting societies and was elected to the membership of the Royal Society of British Artists (1946) and the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours (ARWS 1957, RWS 1959). His autobiography, A Canvas to Cover, was published in 1947. In 1953, Seago was appointed one of the Official Artists of the Coronation, and three years later was invited by the Duke of Edinburgh to join the Royal Yacht, Britannia, on a round-the-world tour. The results of that trip were displayed at St James’s Palace in 1957. While a keen traveller and sailor, he remained attached to East Anglia and lived at Ludham in Norfolk for many years. Following his death in London of a brain tumour on 19 January 1974, a memorial show was held at Marlborough Fine Art.
His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Government Art Collection; and Anglesey Abbey (National Trust) and Norfolk Museums Service.
Further reading: Jean Goodman, Seago – A Wider Canvas: The Life of Edward Seago with Writings by his Brother, John, Banham: Erskine Press, 2002; Ron Ranson, Edward Seago, Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1987; Ron Ranson, Edward Seago: The Vintage Years, Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1992; James W Reid, Edward Seago: The Landscape Art, London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 1991; James Russell, Edward Seago, London: Portland Gallery/Lund Humphries, 2014