Black Tulip

Mary Fedden (1915 - 2012)

Watercolour on paper


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© The Estate of Mary Fedden. All rights reserved 2016/Bridgeman Images

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  • About the work
    Country: Turkey
    City: Ankara
    Place: British Embassy

    Black Tulip is a playful composition that unusually (for a floral still life) maximises black, grey and white to great effect. The glossiness of the tulips’ black petals echoes the unusual black flesh of the lemon – an anomaly that brings a fresh artistic eye to an otherwise traditional genre. Over the centuries, the search for a black tulip has been a constant preoccupation; since the 16th century, Dutch growers had tried unsuccessfully to cultivate one. Thanks to a novel written by Alexander Dumas in 1850, titled La Tulipe Noire, its legend has spread throughout the world.

    Predominantly celebrated as a painter of still life, Fedden produced works that combined pure colour with the decorative potential of geometric pattern and bold line. Although she presented subjects naturalistically, she often flattened forms as if toning down the three-dimensional qualities of objects. Her use of vibrant, bold colours injected a strong sense of theatricality into her work.

  • About the artist
    Born in Bristol, Mary Fedden studied at the Slade School of Art (1932 –1936). She studied under the theatre designer, Vladimir Polunin and painted dance sets for Sadlers Wells. Her first solo exhibition was held in 1946 at the Heals furniture store. After her marriage to artist Julian Trevelyan in 1951, the couple travelled in Europe, Africa, India, Russia and America. Fedden has taught painting at the Royal College of Art and at the Yehudi Menuhin School. In 1956 she became a member of the London Group and from 1956–1959 she was the Chair of the Women’s International Art Club. Fedden has exhibited widely since 1953 and her works are represented in many public collections including the Royal Collection and Tate.
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  • Details
    Black Tulip
    Watercolour on paper
    height: 33.00 cm, width: 28.00 cm
    Transferred from HM Revenue and Customs, December 2015
    below image: [right] Fedden 1992
    Long & Ryle; HM Revenue and Customs; transferred to GAC December 2015
    GAC number