Mary Fedden

Garden bunch

Oil on canvas: 20(h) x 24(w) in /

50.8(h) x 61(w) cm

Signed and dated lower left: Fedden 1988; signed and inscribed on a label attached to the frame: Mary Fedden / 1 Garden Bunch

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BX 100

 

MARY FEDDEN OBE RA PPRWA

Bristol 1915 – 2012 London

 

Garden bunch

 

Signed and dated lower left: Fedden 1988;

signed and inscribed on a label attached to the frame:

Mary Fedden / 1 Garden Bunch

Oil on canvas: 20 x 24 in / 50.8 x 61 cm

Frame size: 26 x 29 in / 66 x 73.7 cm

In a modern gilded composition frame

 

Provenance:

New Grafton Gallery, London;

Barbara Holliday (1935-2018), The Gale, Cumbria, acquired from the above in 1988

 

Exhibited:

London, New Grafton Gallery, Mary Fedden, 20th October-12th November 1988, no.8

 

 

Fedden’s refined and accomplished use of colour lies in the artist’s instinctual understanding that when rendering pure, ecstatic colour, triumphant authenticity is achieved through a considered application, with exaggeration only serving to lessen its effects. In Garden bunch, colour is reproduced in gradients, orange is showcased through both vivid lashings of burnt blood-orange and deeper shades of vermilion and persimmon, while yellows range from the acidic chartreuse bruises of a ripening lemon to the sunshine folds of a tiger lily’s speckled trumpets. Citric tones are dazzlingly set alight in the present work through an important interplay that the artist establishes between colour and monochrome, with the two extremes of intense black and brilliant white levelling Fedden’s wider palette.

 

Christopher Andreae suggests that the boldness of form Fedden conveys in the flowers that fill her still life compositions, is reminiscent of another British painter and plantsman, Cedric Morris (1889–1982); further stating that neither artist makes their flowers ‘too pretty or sentimental’: ‘Painted with delicacy and an obvious pleasure in their form, colour and markings, Fedden’s flowers also have a convincing tactility and weight.’[1] Fedden confirmed that her still lifes were not to be associated with symbolism or allegory, she simply devoted herself to affectionately rendering the pied beauty and familiar strangeness that natural things inherently possess, ‘the shape and colour of fruits; the infinite variety of flowers.’[2]

 

Mary Fedden, Still life with blue poppies, 1994

Oil on canvas: 77 x 92 cm

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Art Collection

 

 

 

Born in Bristol in 1915, Mary Fedden studied at the Slade School of Art in London from 1932 to 1936 and during the war painted sets for the Arts Theatre in Great Newport Street, London.  At the end of the war, Fedden began to paint in earnest developing her own personal style which owed much to the influence of the French and Russian modernists.  In 1951 she married the British artist Julian Trevelyan and they devoted themselves to art and travel.  Her paintings throughout the 1950s were greatly influenced by her husband and they collaborated on a number of occasions often being commissioned to paint murals together.

 

By the start of the 1960s, Fedden was beginning to formulate her own unique style using pure, vibrant colours.  From 1958 to 1964 she was a tutor at the Royal College of Art where her pupils included David Hockney and Allen Jones, then from 1965 until 1970, she taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School at Cobham in Surrey.

 

Mary Fedden was best known for her bold, vivid still lifes and her colourful views of Italy and North Africa.  Her work was touched by a unique naïveté and she will remain one of Britain’s best loved artists.  She continued to work from the studio in Hammersmith that she shared with her husband (who died in 1988) well into her nineties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biographical Chronology

 

1915        Born in Bristol on 14th August

1932        Commenced studies at the Slade School of Art, London, where she was inspired by her

tutor, Vladimir Polunin and met Julian Trevelyan for the first time

1936        Graduated from Slade School of Art, London and returned to her native Bristol to teach

1939-44   Moved to London and joined the Land Army and the Women’s Voluntary Service

1944        Called up and sent to Europe as a driver for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes

1946        Returned to London, buying a house in Redcliffe Road with Maise Meiklejohn

1947        First one-woman exhibition at the Mansard Gallery in Heal’s Department Store, which led

to a three year commission to paint the covers of Woman magazine

1949        Travelled through Europe with the artist Julian Trevelyan. On their return to London they

settled together in Trevelyan’s home and studio by the Thames at Durham Wharf,    Chiswick

1951        Married Julian Trevelyan

Painted a mural for the children’s section in the Television pavilion on the South Bank at

the Festival of Britain

1958-64    Taught at the Royal College of Art, London where she was the first female tutor in the

Painting School, her pupils including David Hockney, Allen Jones and Patrick

Caulfield

1961        Commissioned to paint a mural for the P&O liner Canberra

1965-70   Taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Surrey

1980        Painted mural for Charing Cross Hospital with Julian Trevelyan

1984-88   President of Royal West of England Academy, Bristol

1985        Painted a mural for Colindale Hospital

1988        Death of Julian Trevelyan

1992        Elected Royal Academician in the Senior Order

1995        Publication of Mary Fedden written by Mel Gooding

1996        Received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Bath

1997        Awarded OBE

2007        Publication of Mary Fedden. Enigmas and Variations by Christopher Andreae

2012        Died in Chiswick on 22nd June

 

 

Select Bibliography

 

Mel Gooding, Mary Fedden, Scolar Press, 1995

Christopher Andreae, Mary Fedden, Enigmas and Variations, Lund Humphries, 2007

José Manser, Mary Fedden and Julian Trevelyan: Life and Art by the River Thames, Unicorn Press Ltd, London, 2012

 

Illustrated books

Suzannah Amoore, Motley the Cat, Viking, London, 1997

Jane Gardam, The green man: an eternity, The Windrush Press, Moreton-in-Marsh, 1998

Mary Fedden with foreword by Mel Gooding, Birds, The Windrush Press, Moreton-in-Marsh, 1999

Works by Mary Fedden can be found in the following public collections:

 

Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity

Contemporary Art Society

Derbyshire & Derby School Library Service

Durham University

Government Art Collection

Gracefield Arts Centre, Dumfries and Galloway Council

Guildford House Gallery

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. Coventry

Hereford Museum and Art Gallery

HM The Queen

Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection, St Mary’s Hospital, London

Lucy Cavendish Collection, Cambridge

National Gallery of New Zealand

National Assembly for Wales / Ty Hywel

National Museum of Wales / Amgueddfa Cymru, Cardiff

The New Art Gallery Walsall

New Hall Art Collection, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge

Newnham College, University of Cambridge

Newport Museum and Art Gallery

Nuffield College, University of Oxford

Open University

Otter Gallery, University of Chichester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Pembroke College Oxford JCR Art Collection

Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery

Reading Museum & Town Hall

Royal Academy of Arts, London

Royal West of England Academy, Bristol

Museums Sheffield

Southampton City Art Gallery

Swindon Art Gallery

Tate Britain

Tulie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust, Carlisle

Mead Gallery, University of Warwick

University of Bath

University College London Hospitals

University of Leeds Gallery Art Collection and Gallery

University of York

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester

Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Wirral

York Museums Trust

 

[1] Christopher Andreae, Mary Fedden: Enigmas and Variations, (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2007), p.124.

[2] Mel Gooding, Mary Fedden, (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995), p.36.

Modern BritishMary Fedden