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Mary Fedden and Julian Trevelyan Hardcover – 17 Oct 2012
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About the Author
As a journalist, Jose Manser has specialized in design and architecture, contributing to many publications. For nine years she edited RIBA Interiors before becoming editor of the RIBA Journal for one year. She was for a long time the London correspondent of the American publication Interiors, and has written monographs of the architect Eva Jiricna and the designer Rodney Kinsman. Her biography of the architect and Past President of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Hugh Casson, was published in 2000.
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Lovely read, it is easy to get lost in the evocative and descriptive passages detailing their many trips abroad and the artwork that they inspired.
Although not a picture book as such, there are plenty of illustrations in both b/w and colour, including some rare pages of Mary's sketchbooks.
Written very well and in a particularly affectionate tone with a respectful tip of the hat to both artists.
The book almost seems to step up a gear as Mary certainly did following Julian's death in 1988 and we witness Mary as a rising art star and all the benefits and attendances that went with it.
Anyone with more than a passing interest in British modern art would enjoy this book.
Julian Trevelyan (1910-1988) attended Bedales school in Petersfield and then Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied English. However, he abandoned his studies after two years and left Trinity without a degree and arrived in Paris where he intended to become an artist. In Paris, he worked in Stanley William Hayter’s Paris print studio, where he learnt to etch and where he worked with artists such as Picasso and Giacometti. In 1934 Julian returned to England and, with the work he’d created in Paris along with the paintings and etchings he’d produced since his return, he was able to mount an exhibition at the Bloomsbury Gallery, where his co-exhibitor was Ursula Darwin, and the pair married later in the year. In 1936 Julian became involved with the British Surrealist Group, but he did not believe his paintings to be truly surrealist in content and later resigned. In 1937 he joined Tom Harrison’s Mass Observation movement and during WW2 he became a camoufleur with the Camouflage Department. After war service, Julian resumed painting and etching and he taught at the Chelsea School of Art from 1950-55, and from 1955-63 he worked with students at the Royal College of Art where he became Head of the Etching Department. In 1963 Julian fell ill with a menigitis-type virus which left him with restricted movement and a speech impairment, and it was Mary who naturally took time out from her own work to help Julian in his recovery and to assist him in his etching studio. After Julian’s death in 1988, Mary Fedden’s work, which had often been overshadowed by that of her husband, became increasingly popular and began to fetch ever higher prices. She stayed on living and working at Durham Wharf where she continued to entertain friends and fellow artists, and where she still held the annual Boat Race parties that Julian had begun in the 1930s. Mary Fedden died in 2012 at the age of 97.
Jose Manser, a journalist specializing in design and architecture, was a neighbour of Mary Fedden’s for many years and this informally written account provides a good introduction to the two artists who lived and worked together and who supported each other for nearly forty years. Although this attractively presented publication is not an in-depth study of the subjects’ lives nor a comprehensive critical analysis of their work, it’s a readable book that is filled with illustrations and includes mention of a whole cast of characters such as: Bernard Berenson; Hugh Casson; A.P. Herbert; Peggy Guggenheim; Robin Darwin; Dylan Thomas; Eileen Agar; Cyril Connolly; and Humphrey and Stephen Spender, amongst others.