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Raven by A W Seaby

From a 1930s book plate by Allen W. Seaby (1867-1953), watercolorist, woodcut artist, author, and illustrator.

Allen W. Seaby (1867-1953), watercolorist, woodcut artist, author, and illustrator, was born in London on May 25, 1867, the son of a cabinet maker and carpenter. He studied color woodcut with Frank Morley Fletcher, a pioneer in England of woodblock color printing by Japanese methods, at the School of Art, Reading University.

Seaby joined the staff of the University of Reading in 1899 where he became professor of fine art and later head of the art department. He was professor between 1920 and 1933.

He mastered the techniques of color woodcut and became one of its leading exponents. He won a gold medal for color woodcut in Milan in 1906 and was a founding member of the Engravers and Printers in Colour and the Colour Print Guild.

Seaby illustrated many books on art instruction, nature, ornithology, and ponies, including Drawing for Art Students and Illustrators; British Ponies. Running wild and ridden; Blondel the minstrel; Art in the Life of Mankind: a survey of its achievements from the earliest times; and Colour Printing with Linoleum and Wood Blocks, Skewbald: The New Forest Pony; British Ponies; The White Buck, and the Ladybird Book of Birds”.’

His ability to create delightfully varied colour-harmonies, when painting birds, often achieved by painting the backgrounds on linen, mean his prints are among the most desirable of their kind; his work bridges ‘the gap between fine art and so called “wildlife art”. He had an extraordinary ability to synthesise art and nature: his “studies of wildlife”are significant for the way in which “naturalistic truth is combined with decorative disposition”.

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