European Art: Paintings & Sculpture

European Art: Paintings & Sculpture

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 178. EDWARD SEAGO, R.W.S. | A CLEAR WINNER.


Lot Closed

June 18, 03:51 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 GBP

Lot Details





signed and dated l.r.: Seago 32

oil on canvas

51 by 76cm., 20 by 30in.

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Ackerman's, London where purchased in the 1970s by the mother of the present owner

Seago's father was a Norwich coal merchant and did not share his son's passion for art but he loved animals and kept two shire carthorses for hauling coal. It may partly have been these horses that inspired Seago to paint horses early in his career to please his father. 'For the young artist, therefore, the equestrian world offered both a route to success and an opportunity to share his father's passion, and he threw himself into the work.' (James Russell, Edward Seago, 2014, p.14) As a child with a heart condition Seago had been forbidden to do many of the things he had wanted to but in early adulthood he asserted himself. One of the first things he embarked upon was learning to ride, taking lessons from a local farmer named George Cross. His interest in horses even went so far as to inspire him to construct an entire equine skeleton so that he could better understand the way a horse's body articulated. His father encouraged this interest in horses, perhaps because they had been told that he may not live long and he should make the most of the short life they believed he would have (he lived well into his sixties). The other great inspiration for the artist at this time was Alfred Munnings, who was also a Norfolk man who had phenomenal success as a painter of glossy-flanked horses and wild landscapes. The young Seago's admiration for Munnings was almost obsessive and he even claimed to have injured his eye in the same way that Munnings had been partially-blinded. His paintings of the early 1930s follow the examples of Munnings but with Seago's own distinctive and fluid style. He visited the local Norfolk gypsies to paint their horses and also the local hunters and steeplechasers owned by the Norfolk gentry. However it is the pictures painted at the races that are the most interesting. They capture the kinetic movement of the horses and the excitement of the race beneath dramatic skies. The present picture captures the moment that a beautiful chestnut approaches the finishing-flag, every muscle and sinew straining to be the champion. Although it was not conceived as a pair with The Start of 1933 (private collection) which is of more square format, it clearly shows a parallel subject. The elegant couple in the background of A Clear Winner, probably represent Henry Mond, 2nd Baron Melchett and his beautiful wife Lady Gwen. Melchett had been impressed by an exhibition of Seago's sporting pictures and landscapes held at the Arlington Galleries in Old Bond Street in London in 1929. He invited Seago to live in a cottage on the Melchett estate in Hampshire which was a radical change of circumstance for a coal-merchant's son and placed him among a sophisticated social scene where the twenty-two year old artist attended dinner parties with the likes of Randolph Churchill, Augustus John and famous actors and members of aristocracy and royalty.