Size: 20″ x 24″
Signed and dated: Fedden 1994
Framing: Cream painted and gold leaf moulding frame
There is a certain dramatic tension in this painting, The letter, executed in 1994. This work combines elements of Mary Fedden’s preferred genre, still life, with the suggestion of a moonlit landscape beyond the open window, and the inclusion of a female figure, seen somewhat mysteriously reflected in a mirror, pouring over a freshly written letter.
While studying at the Slade, Mary Fedden was most affected by her tutor Vladimir Polunin, a theatre designer who had worked with the Ballets Russes, and the billowing curtain which often reappears in her paintings is a testimony to the influence which he proved to be on Fedden, who indeed designed sets for performances at Sadler’s Wells before opting to dedicate herself to easel painting. The curtain not only neatly frames the composition, but also lends an element of theatricality.
Indeed, it is not surprising to learn that this painting was created in conjunction with an exhibition held to accompany Glyndebourne’s 1994 opera season. Mary Fedden (who as an opera lover designed a number of programme covers and other promotional material for Glyndebourne), chose to illustrate a key moment in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. In a celebrated aria, the heroine, Tatiana, realising that she is utterly in thrall to the cold Onegin, takes up her quill to declare her love for him:
I write to you – no more confession
is needed, nothing’s left to tell.
I know it’s now in your discretion
with scorn to make my world a hell.
Alas for Tatiana, her love is scorned until it is too late, yet Mary Fedden clearly captures the anguish which drives Tatiana to confession, and the hope which fills the moment of the letter’s composition, translating onto canvas the magical beauty of Tchaikovsky’s score.
MARY FEDDEN. THE LETTER. Available for sale – please contact us for further details.