Clyde Follett Seavey Sr. was born on June 23, 1904 in Sacramento where his father was noted city official. Seavey studied at UC Berkely where he won a scholarship to the California College of Arts & Crafts. After graduating from CCAC in Oakland, he joined the artists at Patterson & Sullivan, which was an art service based in San Francisco in the 1920s and 1930s. In addition to their illustration services, P&S employed a staff of graphic and packaging designers as well as typographers, calligraphic artists and photographers. They provided illustration services for the local advertising agencies such as Lord & Thomas, McCann Erickson, BBD&O, Young & Rubicam, and J. Walter Thompson. By the mid-1920s, P&S was attracting many of the country's leading illustrators including Clyde Seavey, John Atherton, Stan Galli, Paul Carey, Jack Painter, Haines Hall, Gib Darling, Forrest HIbbits and Amado Gonzalez. These artists were able to supply a wide range of illustration styles evidenced in their campaigns for clients such as Southern Pacific Railroad, Dole Food Company, Del Monte, Levi Strauss, Stanford University, Standard Oil, and Dollar Steamship Lines. In 1930 Clyde Seavey and fellow P&S artist, Paul Ogden created a one-of-a-kind book with comic graphic and text depictions of each of the staff artists. Two original copies of this book are known to exist (one in the Lost Art Salon collection and the other in the historical holdings of Patterson & Sullivan).
Patterson & Sullivan, Photo courtesy of P&H Creative Group.
Seavey also made his living as a commercial artist for magazines such as The American Weekly. His real passion can be seen throughout his deeply personal work. Clyde’s detailed sketchbooks and paintings describe the story of his early domestic life at Laguna and California Streets in the 1930s-50s. In addition to his searing self-portraits, Clyde often depicted Adele (his wife), Clyde Jr. (their only child), and family friends, with an emotive and romantic eye. Adele de Izcue (a provocative Peruvian beauty) passed away a decade after Clyde in 2001.
Clyde showed his work at Gilbert Galleries on Sutter Street in 1966 and is known to have had several other shows in galleries and museums throughout California. He is particularly regarded for his paintings of San Francisco’s old mansions and Victorians, often depicted at night or twilight. The Seavey family was part of a vibrant international community of nouveaux bourgeois who gathered in their family's salon. Their sprawling and dramatic four-story home in Pacific Heights served as the private gallery for the artist’s many portraits and San Francisco city scenes. Unfortunately, the house was torn down more than three decades ago. Clyde Follett Seavey’s son, Clyde I. Seavey Jr., was also an artist and created a series of haunting abstract figurative pieces in the 1960s. In 1969 Clyde Jr. took his own life in their family home. During his artistic career Seavey Sr. was a member of the Artists Club, Artists & Art Directors Club, and Advertising Club all in San Francisco.