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 Mary Fedden  (1915 - 2012)

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Lived/Active: England      Known for: fruit and floral still-life, animal and landscape painting, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Sometimes mistakenly described as the daughter of Roy Fedden (who was in fact her uncle), Mary Fedden studied at the Slade School of Fine Arts, London from 1932 to 1936. She then returned to Bristol where she painted and taught until World War II broke out. After the war was over, Fedden developed her own style of flower paintings and still-lifes, reminiscent of artists such as Matisse and Braque.

In 1951, Mary Fedden married the artist Julian Trevelyan. She went on to teach painting at the Royal College of Art from 1958 to 1964, the first woman tutor to teach in the Painting School. Her pupils included David Hockney and Allen Jones. She subsequently taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School at Cobham in Surrey, from 1965 to 1970.

In 1995 she acknowledged in an interview in The Artist magazine:
“I really float from influence to influence…. I found the early Ben Nicholsons fascinating as were the paintings of his wife Winifred.  I also admire the Scottish artist Anne Redpath and the French painter Henri Hayden.”

Mary Fedden’s subjects are often executed in a bold, expressive style with vivid and contrasting colours, although her work of 2005-6 uses a narrower tonal range.  Her still-lifes are often placed in front of a landscape, and she enjoys the contrasting of disparate, even quirky elements. When using watercolours she emphasises the rough texture of her favourite Indian papers.

Fedden has exhibited in one-man shows throughout the UK every year since 1950.  These included the Redfern Gallery, London from 1953, the New Grafton Gallery, London from the 1960s, the Hamet Gallery from 1970, the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and at the Beaux Arts Gallery, London in the 1990s. A major exhibition of her work was held at the Royal West of England Academy in 1996.

She has also received several commissions for murals, notably the Festival of Britain in 1951, the P & O Liner Canberra in 1961, Charing Cross Hospital in 1980 (along with her husband, the artist Julian Trevelyan), Colindale Hospital in 1985, and for schools in Bristol, London and Hertfordshire.  Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections such as the Chantrey Bequest for the Tate Gallery, Contemporary Art Society, and the City art galleries of Carlisle, Hull, Bristol, Edinburgh and Sheffield.  In 2008 Portland Gallery held a major retrospective for Mary Fedden with 125 paintings spanning six decades.

In 1995 the writer and critic Mel Gooding wrote a monograph on her work tracing her long career up to her marriage to Julian Trevelyan and their life together on the Thames at Chiswick, London.  In 2007 a second book on Mary Fedden written by Christopher Andreae was published, tracing her whole career and up to 2006.

From 1984, Mary Fedden held the post of President of the RWA, up until 1988, the same year her husband Julian Trevelyan died.  She is an academician of the Royal Academy and has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath.  She has also received an O.B.E. and in 2009 an honorary degree from the University of Durham for her work.

Fedden has long been a close friend with retired British television presenter, Anna Ford. Now in her nineties, Mary Fedden remains a prolific and popular painter. She continues to live and work in her studio on the River Thames, London.

Sources:
Wikipedia: Mary Fedden
Trinity House Fine Art Consultants,
http://www.trinityhousepaintings.com/Fedden-Mary-DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=45&tabindex=44&artistid=66427

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