Born in Bristol, Mary Fedden aspired to be a painter even as a child, and after leaving school at 16 she attended Slade School of Art in London from 1932 to 1936. Studying under Vladimir Polunin, she painted sets at Sadlers Well Theater, but ultimately decided against a career in stage design. Fedden returned to Bristol where she taught art and painted portraits to earn a living. During the war Fedden served in the Land Army and the Women’s Voluntary Service, eventually returning to London and to her stage painting, working for the Arts Theatre in Great Newport Street and painting propaganda murals on the side. In 1944 she was called up and sent to drive for the Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI).
MARY FEDDEN, Still Life with Milk Jug, signed and dated 'Fedden 07'
Estimate £7,000 - £10,000
After the war Fedden returned to painting and held her first exhibition in Heal’s department store in 1947 showing several flower paintings and still lifes painted in her own indisputable style, reminiscent of Matisse and Braque. The subjects of the paintings are often executed in a bold and expressive style, with vivid and contrasting colours, still lifes often placed in front of a landscape.
After her first show she was commissioned to paint covers for Women magazine and several commissions for murals, most noteworthy perhaps is the Festival of Britain in 1951 and a decade later the P&O liner Canberra in 1961 and alongside her husband, the artist Julian Trevelyan for the Charing Cross hospital.
In 1956 Fedden became a member of The London Group, a group created to offer additional exhibiting opportunities for artists beyond the Royal Academy of Arts. Alongside this she became a chairperson for the Women’s International Art Club, which intended to bridge the gap between male and female artists and provide women artist more opportunities to arrange exhibitions of their work outside of the more male dominated RA.
MARY FEDDEN, The Fish Pot, signed and dated 'Fedden '82'
Estimate £10,000 - £15,000
Continuing as somewhat of a female trailblazer in the world of art Fedden became the first female tutor at the Royal College of Art teaching painting. Her students include the likes of David Hockney and Allen Jones. After 6 years at the RCA Fedden taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Cobham Surrey from 1965 to 1970.
Fedden remained a prolific and popular painter, continuing to live in her Chiswick studio she shared with her husband, fellow artist Julian Trevelyan, until her death in 2012 aged 96.