Mother and Child on the Beach, 1979

by Mary Fedden

£9,500

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 5.6 x 9.9 in./ 14.1 x 25.2 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed and dated lower left
MEDIUM: Watercolour and gouache

Catalogue No: 5344 Categories: ,

This little watercolour painting is a work by Modern artist Mary Fedden, who enjoyed a stellar career, spanning most of the 20th Century. This picture is a sensitive and stylised depiction of a mother lying on a beach with her young child, looking out to sea. Typical of Fedden’s minimalistic style, Mother and Child on the Beach is depicted with a very limited palette of blue and grey, giving the feeling of the cold light of morning, while the areas of paper left strategically blank cleverly imply the bright light reflecting off the water, upon which a small sailing boat can be seen.

Provenance

Private Collection, United Kingdom

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Biography

Mary Fedden was born in Bristol, and attended the city’s Badminton School, until she left at age sixteen, to study at the Slade School of Art, from 1932 to 1936. After leaving the college she lived between London and Bristol, and made a living teaching, painting portraits and producing stage designs for Sadler’s Wells and the Arts Theatre. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Fedden served in the Land Army and the Woman’s Voluntary Service and was commissioned to produce murals for the war effort. In 1944 she was sent abroad as a driver for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes.  After the war, she returned to easel painting and developed her individual style of still life painting, partially inspired by Modern painters such as Matisse and Braque.

 

In 1951 Mary Fedden married the artist Julian Trevelyan, whom she had met before the war. They took a studio on the Thames River at Chiswick, where Fedden lived and worked until she passed away. Together, Trevelyan and Fedden travelled widely and even collaborated on a mural commission for Charing Cross Hospital. Fedden received several other commissions for murals, most importantly from the Festival of Britain (1951), the P & O Liner, Canberra (1961) as well as from schools and hospitals.

 

In 1955, in an article in ‘The Artist’ magazine, Fedden wrote: “I really float from influence to influence. I found the early Ben Nicholson’s fascinating as were the paintings of his wife Winifred. I also admire the Scottish artist Anne Redpath and the French painter Henri Hayden.”

 

From 1958-1964 Fedden taught at the Royal College of Art and was the first female tutor in the Painting School. Her pupils included David Hockney and Allen Jones. Subsequently, Fedden taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, and was elected Royal Academician. From 1984 to 1988 she was President of the Royal West of England Academy. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath, as well as the University of Durham, and an O.B.E. for her work.

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