wesson edward boast on the norfolk broads

EDWARD WESSON (1910-1983)

Boats on the Norfolk Broads, signed

watercolour on paper 34.3 x 52.1cm; signed

Handmade replica of our French 19th century canted architrave frame, water-gilded

Overall framed size 54 x 71.1cm

Click on image to view at larger size

Wesson’s spontaneous and rapid plein-air sketching technique is amply demonstrated in this watercolour of the Broads, with its graphic brushwork over the slightest under-drawing. The paper still carries the edges of the brown sticky paper used to stretch it onto the drawing board, with the paint carrying onto these margins. Wesson is the master of depicting water beneath the immensity of the East Anglian sky, with its softly brilliant diffused light. The wetness of the tranquil water gleams from the paper, between the strong perspectival recession of riverbank and moored boats.

Biographical details

Edward Wesson was born in Blackheath, London, spending his life in Kent, and in Guildford in Surrey. He was self-taught, and generally disparaging of art schools; however, he himself taught – both formal courses and through evening demonstrations to art societies (he was chairman of Guildford Art Society for many years). He served in the Second World War, in Sicily and mainland Italy, managing to develop his technique even under campaign conditions. He was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI), the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA), and the Royal Society of Marine Artists (RSMA), besides exhibiting at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. His true love was watercolour, for which he displayed an extraordinary facility, his bravura technique forming the centrepiece of his demonstrations. He was influenced, amongst others, by Eugène Boudin.

He produced commercial art designs, notably artwork for greetings cards, travel posters of scenery for British Rail and designs for the Post Office Savings Bank; he wrote articles for The Artist and Leisure Painter, and produced an autobiography, My corner of the field, in 1982. An award in his name is offered at its annual exhibition by the Royal Society of British Artists.

Works in public collections include River meadow landscape (Guildford House Gallery); High force on the Tees and Richmond from the river (both British Railways Poster Artwork, York, National Railway Museum).

See The Art of Edward Wesson, Ron Ranson, London, new ed., 2004; with thanks also to Iris Hawkins, who knew Wesson.