Studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art
Showings and Exhibitions
1953 - The Trafford Gallery, London
1955 - The Trafford Gallery, London
1957 - Eton College Personal Retrospective
1957 - Royal Society of Watercolour Artists, London
1960 - The Broadway Art Gallery, Worcestershire
1986 - The Glebe Gallery, London
1994 - The Royal Society of Arts, London
1999 - London School of Economics
2003 - The Fleming Collection, London
2010 - The Fleming Collection, London
2015 - The Fleming Collection, London
2018/19 - Royal Watercolour Society
2020 - Online exhibition
- William Blair for offices in Chicago, London and Shanghai
- Dover Corporation for Chicago office
- Stonehage Fleming for offices in Neuchatel and Geneva
REVIEWS AND APPRECIATIONS
2020, James Holloway CBE, past Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
"There was a moment in David Benson’s life when he had to choose between two careers; art or business. This was after he left Eton with a glowing reputation as a watercolour artist evidenced by a retrospective exhibition, followed by a period with the Byam Shaw School of Art. Sensibly David chose both. To this day he remains both fully engaged in the world of finance and a very accomplished watercolour artist.
This online exhibition shows work he has painted during the last ten years and the subjects reflect his homes in Peeblesshire, Sussex and Italy as well as travels further afield.
Watercolour is a notoriously difficult medium for any artist to handle. A penetrating eye and a sure hand are necessary to capture transient light effects. There is no option, as for instance with oil paint, of making changes. But in the hand of an accomplished painter the watercolour brush can work wonders, capturing the sparkle of an Italian piazza on a summer’s day, clouds over the Manor valley in autumn light or a wintry morning in Edinburgh. Colour and texture are the essentials for an artist and David works with a modest selection of paints. Papers are chosen carefully to enhance the effect. Occasionally gouache is used, sometimes gold leaf. Body colour may be applied and wiping used to create the desired effect. The result of all this expertise and care is, surprisingly, spontaneity. Every watercolour captures a particular moment with insight and affection."
Patio, Bussento (detail)
2015, Huon Mallalieu, Hon RWS, Arts Writer for Country Life
"Iolo Williams, whose Early English Watercolours is the bible of the subject, stressed the importance of “the distinguished amateur” to the English School. David Benson is a very distinguished amateur, but unlike many of his predecessors he has the skill and talent to have been a distinguished professional had he wished. As an amateur, perhaps David comes closest to Hercules Brabazon Brabazon (1821-1906), who astonished the art world with his first professional exhibition at the age of 70. Brabazon, of course, was wealthy and had no work to distract him from his “hobby”. David has had - and has - a very full working life, but still makes time to paint watercolours, principally on the spot, wherever he travels around the world."
2003/10, Henry Wemyss, Director of the British Watercolour Department at Sotheby's
"The transparent freshness of David's watercolours with their intriguing views (and particularly fine skies) is a product of confidence, discipline and singular accomplishment. In short the exhibition displays the standards of a professional from the hand of an amateur."
1986, Wilfred Blunt, formerly Head of Art at Eton College and Curator Emeritus of the Watts Gallery
"David Benson has, over the years, produced a corpus of paintings of which any full time professional might be justly proud, a judgement that was foreshadowed by the reviews of his highly successful exhibitions."
David is happy to discuss commissions. He is often asked to paint a favourite view, house or interior scene. Here are some examples of recent works. Please contact David directly to discuss.