Serenity in Colour

The Soothing Art of Mary Fedden

In our upcoming Cornish Art & Fine Art auction we have a fantastic selection of works by the artist, Mary Fedden. 

Mary FEDDEN (1915-2012), Red Throated Diver, 1997, Oil on board 


Mary Fedden’s artworks are best known for their soothing quality and harmonious colour palette. She had the ability to transform simple scenes into colourful and serene memories. Fedden’s works embrace beauty through colour, form, and pattern. Mary’s approach to colour is individual and her works are distinctive in their aesthetic of flattening objects in the still life scene, of flowers and fruit. Her work possesses a timelessness, feeling modern even to contemporary eyes. 

Her work springs from her imagination and memories, drawing inspiration from her sketchbooks, which she carried with her everywhere, enjoying trips to Cornwall. There, she found inspiration in the scenery, boats, and plants. 


Mary FEDDEN (1915-2012), Fruit & Scabious, 1993, Gouche on paper 


Fedden honed her distinctive style over seven decades, drawing inspiration from the rise of British Modernism, cubism, and abstraction. Her work incorporates subtleties of surrealism and pop art as well. 


Who exactly was this remarkable artist? 


Mary Fedden was born in Bristol in 1915 and studied at the Slade School of Art in London, interested in Theatre design. She painted the sets for professional performances at Sadlers Wells but decided against pursuing stage design as a career. 

After studying, Mary returned to Bristol where she taught art and made a living painting portraits. 


Mary FEDDEN (1915-2012), Fishing Boats, 2000, Watercolour

After the war, where she served in the Land Army and Woman’s Voluntary Service, Fedden could return to painting. She painted a number of landscapes, and was partial to including cats in her work, but she is best known for her still life compositions. In 1947 she held her first exhibition of still life and flower paintings at the Mansard Gallery in Heal’s department store. She subsequently received commissions to paint the cover of Woman Magazine. In 1949, she moved to Durham Wharf, a complex of studios on the Thames at Chiswick, where she worked for the rest of her life. 

From 1946, Fedden had regular exhibitions at the Redfern Gallery and many other galleries throughout Britain. Later, she was the first female tutor to teach in the Painting School at the Royal College of Art. During this period, David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield were among the students there, and it's not hard to detect traces of Mary's influence in their artworks. 


This great selection of works are featured in our upcoming auction, Cornish Art & Fine Art, which takes place on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 June.  


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