Mary Fedden OBE,RA



Artist's Biography & Works For Sale

Mary Fedden was born in Bristol on the 14th of August 1915 to Harry Vincent Fedden the son of Henry Fedden, a very successful Bristol sugar merchant. She was the niece of Sir Roy Fedden (1885-1973) an engineer who designed most of Bristol Engine Co's successful aircraft engine designs and Romilly Fedden, a well-known watercolourist who is thought to have encouraged her to paint.

Mary Fedden joined the Slade School of Art at seventeen years of age from 1932 to 1936 under the tutelage of the Russian scene painter and author of ‘The Continental method of scene Painting’ Vladimir Polunin (1880- 1957). Polunin had come to England as Diagalev's main designer for the Russian Ballet and remained to introduce scene painting as a school subject at the Slade School of Art. Polunin was at the time residing in Chiswick Mall and was a neighbour of Julian Trevelyan – a leading surrealist at the time. Julian and his first wife Ursula had set up studios at Durham Wharf and they hosted several parties for their artistic friends and it was when Polunin and Trevelyan were one day arranging a party for Polunin’s son that Mary met Julian. They became friends and after the failure of Trevelyan’s marriage they got married in Sicily in 1951. The same year, for the Festival of Britain, Fedden was commissioned to create a mural for the children’s section in the television pavilion at the south bank. Other commissions followed including for the P&O liner Canberra in 1961 and Charing Cross Hospital (with her husband) in 1980 and for the Colindale Hospital in 1985.

Mary Fedden and Julian Trevelyan travelled widely and during the later fifties and early sixties they were both teaching at the Royal College of Art. Fedden was the first woman to teach in the painting school at the time and her pupils included David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield and Allen Jones. Following this, Fedden also taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School at Cobham.

Her work was shown at most major galleries, including the Redfern (from 1953), the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, Heal’s Mansard Gallery and the New Grafton Gallery in London. From 1984 to 1988 she was President of the Royal West of England Academy. Mary Fedden was appointed OBE in 1997 and she continued to work well into her nineties.  

We also wish to purchase original paintings by Mary Fedden, so if you have one for sale please contact us.