Published: 30 August 2017
This week, we're highlighting one of our favourite paintings, currently on display in our London gallery, by Modern British artist Mary Fedden RA (1915 - 2012).
Simplistic in it's aesthetic at first appearance, this still life composition is a typically complex arrnagement by Fedden, full of subtleties and layered throughout. Painted in 1970, the last year of her teaching career, this mid-career example features elements Fedden is best known for, bold use of colour, vivid tones, and the naive landscape in the background inspired by wide travels abroad, complementing the still life of the foreground.
Mary Fedden was born in Bristol and wanted to be a painter even as a child. Leaving Badminton School at sixteen, she studied at the Slade School of Art in London from 1932 to 1936 under the theatre designer Vladimir Polunin, who had worked with the Ballets Russes. She painted sets for professional performances at Sadlers Wells, but decided against stage design as a career. Returning to Bristol, she taught art and made a living by painting portraits. She held her first exhibition at the Mansard Gallery in Heal's Department Store in 1947, showing a number of still life and flower paintings. She was subsequently commissioned to paint covers for Woman magazine. In 1949 she moved to Durham Wharf, a complex of studios on the Thames at Chiswick. In 1951 she married the artist Julian Trevelyan, whom she had met before the war. Together they travelled in Europe, Africa, India, Russia and America. Since 1946 Fedden painted prolifically and has had regular exhibitions throughout Britain. From the late 1950s she taught painting at the Royal College of Art. In 1992 she was elected to the Royal Academy and had been a member of the Royal West of England Academy at Bristol since the mid-1930s, serving as its President from 1984 to 1988.
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